Japan Today

3 people become first arrested in Japan for posting 10-minute movie recap on YouTube

By SoraNews24

On June 23, Miyagi Prefectural Police announced the arrest of two men and one woman for uploading a fast movie to YouTube in July of last year. “Fast movie” is the Japanese term for those movie summary videos with titles like “Such-and-such In 5 Minutes”, where heavily edited clips or still images of an entire film are put together and narrated with a voice-over or subtitles.

This is the latest incident that demonstrates how copyright infringement in Japan is a criminal offense that could result in prison time. Back in the days of widespread P2P file sharing, scores of people were arrested for uploading and sharing copyrighted material as was the creator of Japan’s largest P2P software Winny.

The advent of YouTube made tracking down uploaders a little more straightforward. In this case, the Japanese trade group Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA) sought a court order in the United States to get the identities of the fast movie uploaders from YouTube. CODA then handed over the information to the Miyagi Prefectural Police, who oversaw the arrests.

▼ A news report showing two of the suspects getting arrested

Most comments online seemed to feel that those who infringe on copyrights need to be taken to task, but some raised the question of whether a fast movie was a serious enough case of infringement.

“That was a fast arrest.”

“YouTube is full of these things.”

“If they are using the movies to get ad revenue then it’s wrong.”

“I’ve seen some of these videos and get why the movie companies are upset. After watching them I don’t really see a need to watch the actual full movie.”

“There is a case that it damages the movies, but in another way it promotes them too. It’s not so clear-cut.”

“I watched a fast movie yesterday. I’m ashamed to say that I’m not going to bother watching the movie now.”

“After watching fast movies, don’t people feel like they want to see the whole thing?”

“Wow, did those people even get a warning first?”

Like in other countries, Japan has “fair use” laws that – while somewhat vague – try to balance the protection of intellectual property with the importance of creative expression and cultural growth.

For example, using copyrighted material for non-profit educational purposes would most likely be fair use but posting a full copyrighted movie on YouTube while collecting ad revenue for it will almost certainly lead to handcuffs if caught.

Most cases tend to fall somewhere in between those two extreme examples though, such as fast movies. The criteria for fair use are usually: size, purpose, creativity, and harm.

According to NHK, the video in question was 10 minutes in length, which is a little longer than a lot of video movie recaps and roughly 10 percent of a feature film’s length. And considering the purpose of the fast movie is to explain the entire plot from beginning to end, CODA could make a strong case that it causes significant harm to filmmaker’s profits.

According to one film and anime trade group survey, there were 2,100 fast movies posted by 55 accounts in the past year. They estimate that this resulted in damages of 95.6 billion yen at a time when the film industry was struggling with the pandemic.

Without seeing the actual video, it’s impossible to judge if it demonstrates enough unique creativity to be considered fair use, but considering it appears to fall short on the other three factors, it would be an awfully high bar to clear.

In the end, it all boils down to the opinion of the copyright holder and whether they feel use of their property crosses a line. So when in doubt, do what top cosplayer Enako does and ask them, otherwise use it at your own risk, especially in Japan where penalties can go as high as 10 years in prison.

Sources: NHK, Itai News, Agency for Cultural Affairs, CRIC

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Gunma man who sought “popularity” arrested after uploading Studio Ghibli’s “Kaze Tachinu”

-- Studio Ghibli releases last set of wallpapers to download and use as backgrounds for video calls

-- Evangelion can (not) get released – Final Rebuild film gets delayed again

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

Exactly, without seeing even part of the clip then we have no way to judge whether’fair use’ was a factor...

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Free them!

9 ( +13 / -4 )

There are plenty legal ways to post movie reviews & analysis without copyright infringement.

It’s up to each platform to enforce it First and “de-monetize” it if there’s a violation.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The platforms should be held accountable, let civil remedies decide and then, make restitution to those alleging to have been infringed… since it’s corporate Japan that has really been pushing this issue.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Further direct arrests of individuals before legal remedies are sought, borders on further curtailment of free and creative expression.

Yet, to be taken seriously, small content creators need to play by both legal & platform rules.

To be safe, *try creating something of their own and stop trying to milk someone else’s creativity and hard work**!*

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Understandable from the point of view of the holders of copyright, specially those that know very well that their movies are not quality products so a "fast movie" would discourage people from paying for the real thing.

Still this is a grey zone that is bound to be a complicated issue, what if the video is only 5 minutes long? or if it illustrated by drawings from the uploader? would it matter if it is not monetized? what if it is just the text of the whole plot and it would take 15 minutes to read? If laws and rules were detailed and clear maybe it would not be such a problem, but in Japan with their fuzzy, badly defined rules that get "adapted" to each situation arbitrarily it will just call for confusion and the videos still proliferating in a way or another.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Well, at least japan is trying to safe the cinema industry that was hit hard by covid. I heard the US ones are even in worse shape. Mortal Kombat and Godzilla were the only ones who manage to keep them afloat ahwile ago.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

They get the prison time, Google gets the ad revenue.

Winny, Piratebay and others got shut down. Youtube continues. If you are big and powerful enough, ...

0 ( +5 / -5 )

CODA then handed over the information to the Miyagi Prefectural Police, who oversaw the arrests.

Like during previous hysteria over file sharing, seems they are being made an example of. It is not even a badly filmed copy off a screen, just a short review using clips and stills, maybe some taken second or third hand from bootleg sources as a million reviewers online have done.

Wouldn't it be nice if the Japanese police would leap into action when a certain Baron Von Ripper Offer visits for the gross defrauding of the Japanese public?

4 ( +8 / -4 )

They should be given the maximum ten year prison sentence.

-16 ( +0 / -16 )

Fair use!

Now lest see, if still shots are used and a critical commentary with recap is given in print media from one of the large Japanese news papers, this will be called a movie review with a "spoiler alert" in the first few lines.

Now someone does the same thing on YouTube that becomes a crime!

I guess easier to go after the small individual than the big powerful news Media corporation!

I started posting videos of my work on YouTube a few years ago, suddenly I got a takedown notice for copyright infringements.

I had no idea what it could have been about.

Turned out it was some background music from the bar nextdoor from where my atelier was located.

You could barely hear it but yes it was there.

I decided to just shut it all down it was not worth the stress!

These corporations are opportunistic money hungry leaches that often only see the short term,

In many cases people doing reviews or reaction videos, expose the movie or artist to a new audience that people in other countries may not have known about otherwise.

Take bands like Baby Metal, Band Maid, Maximum the hormone, etc..

The world knows these groups because of fans and reaction videos on YouTube.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Why are we prosecuting children?!

There's a contract between this kids and the YouTube platform.

You gotta prosecute the platform, not small kids.

You're not gonna fix anything just abusing this kids.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

It's much easier to prosecute these kids than going after YouTube...

3 ( +7 / -4 )

Many here @zichi 1:26 would like to see just what their issue was. Despite their retraction of request for monetization, does the Spanish version still exist? Can we have a link?

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

I would certainly prefer a quick summery of the content of these Hollywood garbage movies to being forced to spend 90 minutes of my life suffering through the whole thing.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Funny how they prosecute this while ignoring white collar crime and crime by politicians.

Japan prosecutors love this kind of crimes because it's easy picking for them and adds to their 99.995% conviction rate. I bet the prosecutor who got this case is shaking with jubilation because it will add to his points for promotion.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

After few months or even a year of working hard with the great team, such huge effort gone in few minutes of clip by unknown random stranger who rakes in more money than those involved in the movies. This is totally unfair. These Youtubers need to be banned and rotten in jail for minimum 5 years.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

This is getting scary...

1 ( +3 / -2 )

And where’s the difference when someone watches the official trailers and the complete storyline or description in the IMDb or elsewhere? That’s crazy to arrest people for providing something out of the gray zone, that with the same results is completely free and will not be followed or punished on many other channels, blogs, databases or platforms etc. Let them go and care about real crimes instead.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Oh look, vicious and scary criminals being arrested for making YouTube videos…..

oh look, lowlifes and police officers committing sex predator crimes and corrupt politicians getting away with everything……

how about getting some priorities straight, Japan?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Nonsense and waste of time! Another publicity to stunt like when you see a long line of investigators marching down the street to raid someones office.

This seems to be the fault of Japan's incompetent keystone cops.

Police should be required to go to at least 2-year school post high to learn the law and just basic common sense. Quite often the police recruit people who did not do well in academics at school and focused only on sports.

My friend who is a police officer said some Kendo students are recruited straight out of high school to simple compete in the intramural kendo tournaments against other police departments. They simple train kendo all say and very little police or patrol work.

This matter is a civil court matter and not a public arrest matter.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Agreed @Numan 4:23pm:

*- “**This matter is a civil court matter and not a public arrest matter.” -*

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Police should be required to go to at least 2-year school post high to learn the law and just basic common sense.

The sad thing is that it is not uncommon in many countries including many western countries that police are just high school graduates.

I think in my country only one province requires that police have 3 years post secondary diploma in police technology, in a college and after that police academy.

The rest of the country even are national police only need high school.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Congratulations @zichi 5:27pm on receiving due recompense. YouTube & CODA have been making it very difficult in the last year for small, independent ‘creators’ as well.

As one commenter stated @11:16 am, there are benefits and detriments for small time creators such as yourselves and the larger fish that want to consume the smaller and garner the majority of profits.

- “These corporations are opportunistic money hungry leaches that often only see the short term, In many cases people doing reviews or reaction videos, expose the movie or artist to a new audience that people in other countries may not have known about otherwise.” -

Let’s hope YouTube doesn’t turn their back completely and continue to sacrifice the individual content creators that made YouTube what it is today.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If anyone is guilty of a crime it is YouTube. Any breach of copyright should be a civil matter not criminal.

Generally to join the UK police you need a degree or be willing to study for one. Whether that provides good beat cops rather than high flying administrators I am not sure.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )


> My Italian nephew in his 20s, did two terms of national service because of lack of jobs then went straight into the police force and is now a cop in Milan.

We do not know anything about your nephew's current situation. We do not know if he is competent, incompetent, honest, or corrupt.

Joining the police force after leaving high school and with correct police training they do not need to go to college or university unless they want to specialise in some subject.

So, he was further educated by doing two terms in the military where he received proper training then became a police officer? I believe you just proved my point.

I would disagree if you want the quality of policing to improve. For example, barber school or beauty school takes longer to complete than police training at least in the US.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Some more recent ugly developments on YouTube. They can use the content of your video and they can now add adverts too. Starting to see videos with several ads planted in them. YouTube is doomed to be some unusable model.

In many ways, Google, its parent company, and its subsidiaries monopolize the internet and control information. No different than China or JT and punish/ban anyone that disagrees with their inconsistent moderation.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites