My Take on Japan’s Recent Anti-Piracy Measures

What we understand about the piracy curbing is this:

A: *knocks* Is anyone there?
B: Yes?
A: We noticed you have some illegal copies of Nisekoi in your site. May we request you to take that down?
B: But why?
A: There are legal versions available online.
B: But why us?
A: Because you are on our list. Please cooperate with us, we’re losing money.

And the conversation goes on and on and on.

-Post on Deremoe FB page

Japan’s done something that may have a dramatic impact on how we watch anime and read manga. METI has announced that Japan will conduct anti-piracy measures to take down a number of sites they assume are responsible for supporting illegal anime/manga downloads. Is it really the end of times?

I’ve been reading around about Japan’s new anti-piracy act and have found that Netizens are in uproar as if tomorrow’s Armageddon. August 1 is scheduled to be “The End of Free Anime and Manga Online” Day and shit has yet to hit the metaphorical fan. Why, one of my FB friends have already dished out their credit card and purchased a premium membership at Crunchyroll so they can continue to watch anime. An Indonesian “otaku” group have rallied their banners to download as much anime as they can and reupload should anyone request.

Japan’s Stance: The MAG-P

Regrettably, according to a report of Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan, a huge number of Manga and Anime fans, over 50% of them in U.S. and 12% in Japan, are watching or reading pirated works.

The Japanese government has every right to be concerned for its creative industry. They (claim to) suffer losses reaching up to 2 billion yen, or as I quote from the MAG-P website, “…in major cities of China (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chongqing) the damage cost to Japanese contents is JPY 560 billion (approximately US$ 5.6 billion) per year”. Wow, that’s a shit ton of revenue. In October 2012, the government issued a law which criminalized uploading and downloading pirated content. But since the law only worked domestically, they needed a new plan to curb piracy. Enter the MAG-P or Manga-Anime Guardian Project, a cross-industry initiative endorsed by METI with members which include Aniplex, Kadokawa, Good Smile Company, Kodansha, Sunrise, Shueisha, Shogakukan, ShoPro, Studio Ghibli, Tezuka Productions, Toei Animation, TMS Entertainment, Bandai Namco Games, Pierrot, and Bushiroad… all the big names in anime and manga. And they’re serious. Dead serious.

In these days, “pirates” are getting advertisement revenue, kick-bucks from cyberlockers, affiliations with E-commerce sites, or selling Apps. They are exploiting Manga and Anime just for the sake of money.

Manga publishers and Anime companies had worked hard to deal with piracy on their own, but they were getting nowhere. They deleted illegally uploaded works one after another, but “pirates” keep re-uploading works, and setting up new piracy sites…

How MAG-P Works

Here is MAG-P’s mission:

The Triforce of the MAG-P

Now, I’ll explain how MAG-P intends to do their mission. Forget complicated explanations. I’ll try to explain in three brief points how MAG-P plans to carry out their crusade on illegal anime. Their approach is persuasive, as expected from the Japanese.

  • Step 1: Attempt to get rid of illegal anime/manga by contacting about 580 websites suspected to host illegal anime/manga. They will do so by sending out DMCA notices to these sites, asking them to take down infringing content.
  • Step 2: Provide a site for people to access legit anime/manga, known as Manga-Anime Here. This site will direct you, the user, to websites that have a license to distribute anime and manga, like VIZ Media or Funimation. It’s not the anime Netflix, but it’s a start. Maybe they are thinking about starting an anime Netflix in the future.
  • Step 3: Encourage people to watch and read legit anime/manga to build awareness. Watch the following YouTube video.

See? It’s quite simple.

My Take: By All Means, Carry On. Just Keep Some Stuff in Mind, willya?

Now, I’m not a saint. I torrent anime as well. But, I try to purchase original Nendoroids or merchandise whenever I have the money, even though that doesn’t cleanse me of my sins and justify my illegal torrenting.Because of that, I’m not about to take sides any time soon in this debate.

On one side, I support Japan’s maneuver to curb piracy. The government is just doing their job as the government: protecting its subjects. The industry loses a crapload of revenue per year and producing one, 24-minute episode or one tankobon is not a cheap endeavor. With revenue gone, the authors and animators also get affected. Their pay decreases and their heads go to the chopping block. Walking on a slippery slope here, it could lead to the industry’s decline as more and more talented animators and authors give up creating works of art and before you know it, you may not be calling yourself an “otaku” any longer.

What I really support about Japan’s move is its persuasive approach. It’s not arrogant like the Americans; it’s passive-aggressive. And it’s about time people in Indonesia learned to respect copyrights and stop feeling entitled to get free anime just because they have an Internet connection.

But on the other side, I believe that Japan’s maneuver may be counterproductive. Assuming all goes according to plan.

First of all, by taking action against pirate websites, Japan is unconsciously slashing the anime/manga watcher/reader base. The Internet, pirates specifically, has made it possible for those without credit cards to access anime/manga. And let’s face it, without anyone watching, how would you expect to sell an anime? Because for me, personally, I wouldn’t throw money at the screen for a Nendoroid from an anime I don’t even recognize, let alone convince myself to buy a 7000-9000 yen Bluray disc. Torrent sites and fansubs have made it possible for anime to spread like the common cold. Pirates have played a huge role in the dissemination of anime/manga. And the thing is, while they do get revenue from ads, cyberlockers and traffic, they don’t get a cent from the anime they encode nor do they get revenue from other sales related to the anime. It’s different from bootleg sellers. They copy something, make a crappy version of it, and sell it. Fansubbers take the RAW episode, encode it, and release it for free. It seems that Japan is too focused on lost revenue that they forgot to calculate the potential risks of their actions.

Second, people will just run to other alternatives. Platforms like Netflix and Crunchyroll allow the user to stream movies and anime. They have a license to do so. And they charge a monthly fee. As I have mentioned before, this means anime/manga will only be restricted to people with credit cards and those who are financially sufficient. So, what to do? You can either get a job so you can get a credit card or mope like the loser you are. Or, you could find other alternatives, such as downloading the entire Game of Thrones series or getting addicted to Breaking Bad. See? A bit of piracy actually helps, Japan. It helps with publicity. And from what I’ve seen, it’s damn hard to acquire legal copies of Blurays when you live outside Japan and some legal sites where you can stream anime applies regional blocks, so yeah…

Third, it’s a chance for Koreans to take over the Internet. Ah, Japan and Korea, the battle of cultures. Two nations, seeking to saturate the Internet with their own brand of entertainment. One comes armed with cute battleships and giant animated robots, the other with plastic surgery patients and synchronized dancing. Now, it’s all about holding the fanbase. The Korean Wave was a blast because MVs were easily accessible via YouTube. Japan’s Wave was successful because fansubs regularly updated anime. So when you take down these sites, you’re actually killing your own fanbase. And then, Koreans win the Internet.

Fourth, it’s the damn Internet. Remember Kim Dotcom, founder of Megaupload? He came back. Piracy on the Internet will continue to exist, as long as human wit to cut corners exist.

Conclusion

Yes, Japan’s move may have caused an major uproar on the Net. And many have responded irrationally. Seriously, that post on the Indonesia Otaku group made me laugh my bonkers off.

Stop acting irrational, people. No pirated anime/manga DOES NOT mean you can no longer enjoy the increasingly irritating moe-shit the industry spews out just to meet consumer demand (which gets wilder by the year, if I do say so myself; have you watched Himegoto? That’s messed up shit right there); it means you still can enjoy it as long as you acquire it legally. And that’s how it’s supposed to be.

In sum, I support Japan’s move, but I do hope they notice the repercussions of their plan so that the plan doesn’t backfire on them. Sure, I would love to watch legit anime, but only on a global platform with a reasonable price tag like Crunchyroll. I do hope they create an anime Netflix some time soon. One that is fully endorsed by the MAG-P. I wouldn’t mind paying for that; I’d happily pay, actually.

Besides, we who reside in SEA (Indonesia specifically) should not worry too much, as the policy is intended to tackle pirates in the USA and China (check the METI document, link below). But, if shit really does hit the fan, then I’ll be here waiting for the next season of Game of Thrones and The Big Bang Theory.

And guys, stop panicking already. No anime/manga doesn’t mean the end of the world. Ahotaku39, signing out because I have a holiday to enjoy.

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2 thoughts on “My Take on Japan’s Recent Anti-Piracy Measures

  1. I think piracy is okay and free is great. People don’t understand how bad the economy is and how super expensive prices people will not pay. If anime DVDs where under $20 or less, then I can buy a ton load. But if it is Blu-Ray, then they should make them cheaper as well! Also, make it more available like in local Walmarts and Target stores! People will pay with cash, not a credit card.

    Like

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