When fans want to get a brief idea of the nature and plotline of a movie they intend to watch, they often do so view studio-released trailers. Some purists believe that even these can give away too much but in Japan some fans are going even further.
So-called ‘Fast Movies’ have been in existence for some time. These videos are often around 10 minutes in length but rather than giving a flavor of a movie to whet the appetite, they are designed to give away entire plotlines and necessarily include spoilers.
For copyright holders in Japan, this is a step too far and last year several ‘Fast Movie’ uploaders discovered that criminal copyright infringement offenses had been attributed to their YouTube uploads.
‘Fast Cinema’ Uploader Speaks With The Media
In the wake of these arrests, 48-year-old YouTuber Yukio Takasugi, who uses the name ‘Fast Cinema’ online, was approached by local media outlet MBS.
They asked whether he thought his activities were illegal. At the time he noted that “more than half” of the revenue from his videos goes to YouTube, adding that the didn’t believe he was doing anything wrong.
After the interview was published, Takasugi somewhat ironically complained that the news outlet had edited his interview.
“They interviewed me for about an hour, but I felt like, ‘Oh, you’re only using that part? I’m not happy about that’,” he said.
MBS pointed out that Takasugi was making money from editing down other people’s movies but that didn’t deter him. According to MBS, the man later appeared in a blond wig and continued to upload his videos.
Raided in December 2021
MBS discovered that police raided Takasugi last December and subsequently called the man again. He was adamant that what he was doing was not illegal and assured the publication that his work wasn’t hurting anyone.
“I’m just getting my ass handed to me by the investigators, and I don’t want to get in the way,” he said, criticizing copyright protection organizations.
“All they do is lie, lie and lie. Tell them to do it fair and square. They’re trying to convince people that fast films are pirated. It’s all true, don’t be silly. I’m angry about the fact that they don’t do it fairly.”
Anti-piracy group Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA) is now known to have made the referral to the police. Following the December raid, this week police arrested Takasugi.
Arrested For Uploading Edits of Parasite and Other Movies
According to CODA, on February 15 the Miyagi Prefectural Police Headquarters Living Environment Division and the Shiogama Police Station arrested a man on suspicion of violating copyright law.
The anti-piracy group doesn’t name the suspect but from the details it’s clearly Takasugi who was detained. While he is believed to have edited, narrated, and then uploaded many ‘fast movies’, CODA cites just three, including the hit Korean drama Parasite.
CODA also notes that in June 2021 the man told the media he had made dozens of uploads, earning him around 1.5m yen (US$13,000).
Suspect Denies Wrongdoing
Takasugi is reportedly denying the charges, claiming that what he did fell within the rights of quotation. Unlike the US, however, Japan has no broad ‘fair use’ type exceptions to copyright law so it’s unclear how this defense will progress.
The other suspects who were arrested last summer all pleaded guilty to criminal breaches of Japan’s copyright law.
One defendant received 2 years in prison (suspended for 4 years) plus a 2,000,000 yen fine. Another received 18 months in prison (suspended for 3 years) and a 1,000,000 yen fine. The final defendant was handed 18 months in prison (suspended for 3 years) + 500,000 yen fine.
“CODA will continue to take measures such as identifying uploaders for malicious accounts,” the anti-piracy group concludes.