Saturday, October 4, 2008

Two Good News about Copyright in Japan

Japanese government seems to be changing its industry-oriented policy toward consumers.

Last week the Council of Information and Communication decided to scrap the B-CAS, the notorious conditional access system for free broadcasting (link in Japanese). Due to this change, "Dubbing Ten", which forbids copying the programs of digital broadcasting more than ten times, would be abolished, because it is enforced by the encryption of B-CAS. It might be the result of accusation by many people (including me) on the Web that B-CAS is violating the Anti-Monopoly Act.

On Sep. 18, the Council of Culture gave up the extension of copyright from 50 years after the death of the author to 70 years (link in Japanese). Two years ago, the Council proposed the extension to follow the "global standard", but many people on the Web objected against the legislation. A Council member confessed that he didn't imagine such strong objection from overwhelming majority on the Web.

These might be signals that the Web is becoming the "Fifth Estate" to compete against mass media. In Japan, since broadcasting stations are tied with major newspapers, they are so strong that B-CAS nor copyright extension has scarcely been reported in media. However, this taboo is strongly attacked by many blogs and bulletin boards. They organized NPO and accused B-CAS to Fair Trade Commission.

As a result, the tide is changing, but it's only a beginning. We should unite to open the spectrum and abolish the monopoly of broadcasters.