Japanese Law for Manga Piracy Changes, Downloading and Uploading Whole Pages is Illegal

The Japanese “Agency for Cultural Affairs” (ACA) have announced changes to the law regarding illegal downloads of manga.

On Takahashi (CEO of Irodori Comics) broke the story in English to Twitter (via Asahi). He explained how the ACA had changed its policies in regards to sharing screenshots of manga pages.

While clarifying using a character as your avatar on a website, the also explained that taking a screenshot of one manga panel (or “koma”), photos, and newspaper articles would also be acceptable. The emphasis seems to be on only one panel being shared with others- rather than the whole page.

“For pirated manga, taking screenshots of “a few koma” is fine,” On states. “There is no clear number set. But this being Japan, the nuance will be less than 5. […] This is most likely used as a means to report manga piracy via screenshots.” On then elaborated on the oddities of Japanese law in regards to sharing content.

“Downloading photos and artwork uploaded without the original creator’s permission is illegal. DLing something while you KNOW that it’s been illegally uploaded, is also illegal.

And in regards to manga, downloading MORE THAN HALF of a chapter is illegal. AND, downloading manga available for free is ALSO illegal. This might be the one where some people feel confused about.

Pretty much, manga, articles and magazines that are free on the internet (and legal) are “FREE to VIEW” but not to download. So you still can’t download works uploaded on to “ad view-based” free and legal manga sites.”

Concluding, On explained how Japanese police have clearer definition to crack down on piracy. On also claims that due to Japan’s low crime rate, “the police are slowly shifting their resources to combat cyber crimes.” He also stated that these new terms “is still a good thing for us,” compared to far stricter terms that could have passed. “Knowing that screenshots are fine is reassuring. Originally, the ACA just wanted to make everything illegal, but a lot of people in the copyright field argued that too drastic a stance will hurt everybody.”

Speaking directly to On, he explained how Japan does not have a “fair-use” guideline, but they still utilize memes from manga. Due to Irodori Comics’ involvement with adult doujinshi (independent comics), we asked how the law may effect those who pirate and illegally distribute hentai- especially considering how the west usually does not pursue those who pirate or illegally distribute pornography.

On explains that the hentai industry may be more welcoming of it. With Japanese politician Yamada Taro proposing to end censoring pornography in Japan, the industry would gain something while the police enforcing obscenity laws would lose something. As such, allowing this law now may garner more sympathy for the uncensoring bill passing.

“It’ll all depend on how much the hentai industry “plays ball” in regards to the censorship talks we spoke about last time. The hentai industry obviously wants no censorship on anything. For creative purposes etc. The police most likely want everything censored and porn books removed from most places.

That is, they’re on two opposing ends of a spectrum. With the Taro Yamada thing, the police might not be able to get their way. In that case, the hentai/adult industry “wins” and the police “loses”. Doesn’t really give them an incentive to “help” the industry.

But if the industry plays ball and is willing to take some losses, the police might take more action. Kinda like a you scratch my back, I scratch yours situation.”

In other recent political Japanese news, Japanese politician Yamada Taro and others have drafted a proposal to create “The National Center of Art and Media” to preserve art and media- including anime and manga.



Ryan was a former Niche Gamer contributor.

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