In an effort to crackdown on Internet piracy, during October 2012 the Japanese government introduced new legislation targeted at file-sharers.
To support existing punishments of up to 10 years in prison for uploaders, knowingly downloading copyright-infringing material became an offense carrying a potential two years in jail. While it was hoped that these measures would encourage consumers to do the right thing, today the problems persist.
As a result, this week the Japanese government will act in order to preserve what it sees as one of its greatest cultural exports.
Anime and manga are now consumed in countries right around the world and Japan sees this interest in Japanese culture as useful to its relationships abroad. However, with that popularity comes piracy, much of it facilitated by unlicensed overseas sites.
In the hope of remedying the situation overseas, this Friday will see the launch of a massive anti-piracy campaign aimed at making a huge dent in anime and manga piracy.
The government and 15 leading producers and distributors will begin contacting an estimated 580 “overseas pirate sites” with demands that they mass-delete infringing content. The sites are located in various regions, but there will be a particular focus on China.
Whether those sites will comply will remain to be seen, but should pirate content become harder to find the campaign wants to be able to capitalize on that opportunity. According to NHK, a new site will direct fans to legal copies of the 250 affected works at a flat price of a few hundred yen.
“We want to create a project so that anime fans overseas can enjoy Japanese content legally and without infringement worries while the profits are paid to anime production companies and publishers,” a Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry spokesman said.
It seems highly unlikely that overseas sites will comply fully with the requests of the Japanese. However, by attempting to serve the overseas markets with legal content it will at least make it easier for foreigners to open their wallets, should they feel inclined to do so.