Judge threw the copyrighted book at the three defendants.

Early this year we reported on the arrest of three people for posting 10-minutes videos on YouTube that gave the full synopsis of movies in subtitles or narration over clips or still images from the film. Known as “fast movies” in Japan, these videos are not uncommon, but on 16 November, all three were found guilty of copyright infringement for posting them, making this the first conviction of its kind in the country.

One defendant was given a four-year suspended sentence of two years in prison and two million yen (US$17,400), while the other two received three-year suspended sentences of one and a half years in prison and fines of one million ($8,700) and 500,000 yen ($4,350) each.

▼ A news report on the convictions

Although the sentences were all suspended, the penalties for breaking probation are especially high for copyright infringement which averages at about a 300,000 yen ($2,610) fine for a first-time offense, according to lawyer Hiroyuki Nakajima who was involved in the case.

During the trial, the prosecution successfully argued that the defendants’ goal was clearly to make profit and that they were aware of wrongdoing since they avoided posting movies by companies that had a reputation for claiming infringement. Moreover, it would seem that the judge wanted to make an example out of these three as a deterrence against posting unauthorized movie recaps online.

Even in the court of public opinion, most people in online comments seemed to agree with the sentencing and hoped to see more of it in the future.

“I think just a real fine would be effective. Then you’d see uploaders pull down their videos one after another.”
“Please crack down even more.”
“I hope that all unauthorized reproduction of manga, anime, and all that will be eliminated.”
“I’m surprised people would do that in the first place. It’s only natural to get caught.”
“I remember at one point those videos were everywhere. I wonder if we’ll see more trials like this in the future.”
“Thanks to fast movies, I was able to find ones that I wanted to watch. On the other hand, I was also turned off some movies.”

While there are many other fast movie videos online, they don’t all necessarily constitute copyright infringement. Much like in other countries, Japanese law takes into consideration the work’s length, purpose, creativity, and harm to the original copyright holder.

▼ As we mentioned before, Mr. Sato manages to walk the line by making his cosplays barely comprehensible.

Still, when a video that collects ad revenue is more or less just a condensed version of a major motion picture, the window of not getting hit with a criminal conviction is rather narrow. Once again in cases like this, the golden rule to not being punished is to get permission of the copyright holder in advance. It never hurts to ask, but it can hurt a whole lot not to.

Source: Bengoshi Dot Com News, Otaku.com
Top image: Pakutaso
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