politics

If Japan joins the TPP, would it be the end of parody and self-published works?

37 Comments
By Preston Phro, RocketNews24

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has proven a source of extreme contention on both sides of the ocean. For example, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has been openly critical of the potential agreement, describing it on their website as “a secretive, multinational trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement.” Japanese farmers don’t seem to fond of it either, though for entirely different reasons.

And now the TPP is drawing the ire of (with a few smatterings of approval from) Japan’s manga and anime fans. Some are even saying the agreement has the potential to utterly destroy otaku culture. Is this hyperbole or is the sky really falling?

First, to understand what all the hubbub is about, we have to look at what we know about the Trans-Pacific Partnership — and what we don’t. As the EFF has pointed out, much of the agreement is still relatively secret. Whether or not that’s a good thing, we’ll leave to our readers to decide, but it does mean that certain aspects of the conversation are based on speculation — and even if the speculation is accurate now, it doesn’t mean the final agreement won’t be different. So, all of the hand wringing online might be over nothing, which has never happened before in the history of the Internet, right?

On the other hand, if the speculation is correct and the final TPP agreement is as the EFF and others have described, it certainly could be very damaging to Japanese otaku culture in terms of "dojinshi" and, by extension, Comiket.

The issue stems from new regulations proposed by the Trans-Pacific Partnership regarding copyright. We’ll let the EFF explain it.

“The U.S. is pushing for a broad definition of a criminal violation of copyright, where even noncommercial activities could get people convicted of a crime. The leak also shows that Canada has opposed this definition. Canada supports language in which criminal remedies would only apply to cases where someone infringed explicitly for commercial purposes.

"This distinction is crucial. Commercial infringement, where an infringer sells unauthorized copies of content for financial gain, is and should be a crime. But that’s not what the U.S. is pushing for — it’s trying to get language passed in TPP that would make a criminal out of anyone who simply shares or otherwise makes available copyrighted works on a 'commercial scale.'

"As anyone who has ever had a meme go viral knows, it is very easy to distribute content on a commercial scale online, even without it being a money-making operation. That means fans who distribute subtitles to foreign movies or anime, or archivists and librarians who preserve and upload old books, videos, games, or music, could go to jail or face huge fines for their work. Someone who makes a remix film and puts it online could be under threat. Such a broad definition is ripe for abuse, and we’ve seen such abuse happen many times before.”

That’s all a bit dense, so it might be better to look at what, exactly, "dojinshi" producers and fans are worried about.

First, Ken Akamatsu, creator of the legendary series "Love Hina," says on his Tumblr page that the TPP would introduce some new rules that would be “truly scary” for the manga world. The primary one, Ken says, is that copyright violations, regardless of intent, would be treated as criminal offenses, which would include a vast majority of the work found at Comiket, as well as fan work on sites like Pixiv. He also writes that this could (taken to the very extreme) result in people being arrest for parodies, which sounds like he might be taking this a bit far – though the EFF seems to agree with him.

Perhaps you’re already familiar with much of the manga available at Comiket, but if not, it’s important to understand that many of the titles available are derivative works. In other words, they are like fan fiction, in that the creators use characters from established series to tell new stories – kind of like "50 Shades of Grey," but with better BDSM scenes. If you’re from the United States, for example, you may be wondering how all these Comiket artists get away with it, but the simple fact is that most publishers are completely fine with derivative works. While attending Comiket this winter, we stopped and spoke with Biliken, whose work re-imagines certain "One Piece" characters in a way that would probably appeal primarily to people who always thought the series didn’t have enough gay sex.

When asked how she had managed to avoid being sued into the next century by the "One Piece" publisher, Biliken explained that as long as artists aren’t making toys or other merchandise, publishers seem not to care about derivative works. In fact, she thought that they appreciated the fan work as it seemed to bolster sales. Of course, this is just one artist’s opinion, but it’s important to remember that many manga artists get their start with "dojinshi" work – Ken Akamatsu himself gained popularity through his work sold at Comiket.

But what do other Japanese Internet users think?

“TPP: Will Japanese culture and business be harmed? Making copyright violations a criminal offense." "Based only on the reports of completely unrelated third parties, police could arrest 'dojinshi' creators." "Wouldn’t this harm the strengths of businesses and culture powering markets in Japan?” “This is the chapter where otaku culture is finished. However, personally, I think this good. If you’re going to use someone else’s creation, it’s certainly logical that you should pay a fee. If a culture would be destroyed by this, it’s not much of a culture in the end.” "This would pretty much get rid of 'dojinshi' and parodies." “Are we at the stage where we’re counting down the seconds to the death of 'dojinshi?'”

Well, those are some harsh words, though this Twitter user is hardly alone. A number of commenters simply responded with, “Make your own characters.”

Well, that seems pretty alarming, doesn’t it? Of course, as we stated at the beginning, all of this is speculation at this point, since much of the TPP agreement is shrouded in secrecy and we don’t know what will actually be in the final treaty. That said, if you never cared much about international politics, the TPP might be a good place to start reading about it.

Sources: NHK, Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- You’re probably not as genki as this old lady! -- You’re not seeing things, that’s a cat selling roasted sweet potatoes -- The little test that’s blowing Japanese netizens’ minds

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37 Comments
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"as we stated at the beginning, all of this is speculation at this point, since much of the TPP agreement is shrouded in secrecy and we don’t know what will actually be in the final treaty" - article

Hopefully, when something is known, something else will be reported. So far, the report is "be afraid, be very afraid', end transmission.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Everything about TTP is "be afraid, be very afraid". It is just a program to more completely institutionalize the interests of the 1%. Now even the cops will be the tool of the 1%.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

TPP will give control of a large portion of the Japanese food supply to multinational agribusiness, and will kill Japanese farms. Countries should, as much as possible, control their own food supply, in my opinion.

The intellectual property rights issue is mentioned in this article, and most likely, the TPP will bring criminality, in some form, to non-commerical use of the Web. Some info here: https://www.eff.org/issues/tpp

The TPP will cause medical costs to go up, not down. Nice info here: http://hodanren.doc-net.or.jp/tpp/130624tpp-e.html

The TPP will not lift all trade barriers in the US, but will rather put them on a phase out time-frame. It will also shift production outside the US, so it isn't good for US workers, who still have to live within a US price structure, but without their former job. The unions are not wrong about this issue.

http://www.aflcio.org/Blog/Political-Action-Legislation/The-Trans-Pacific-Partnership-Written-in-Secrecy-Could-Cost-U.S.-Jobs

The TPP is so heavily corporately controlled that even US Congresspeople can't get info about it. I support Obama on some issues, but he is totally wrong about this one. It makes a mockery of Congressional oversight. https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130920/12045524592/president-obama-asks-congress-to-give-up-its-oversight-secret-tpp-agreement.shtml

Kill this sucker before it multiplies.

16 ( +18 / -2 )

Recently many Japanese companies in USA have been charged enormous amount of money by US govt. If Japan joined TPP, I'm afraid they(US) could charge even the other Japanese companies that do not have branches in USA.

-5 ( +8 / -13 )

This is the chapter where otaku culture is finished. However, personally, I think this good. If you’re going to use someone else’s creation, it’s certainly logical that you should pay a fee. If a culture would be destroyed by this, it’s not much of a culture in the end.

I have read some doujinshi, and must say that the best of them really do flesh out the characters in-story, so there is creativity involved, and really the market is in a symbiotic relationship with the "main" franchise. Since the idea of copyright is to protect creativity, this seems to be rather self-defeating.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Farmboy: Kill this sucker before it multiplies.

I agree 100%, but how can anyone stop it? 99% of Japanese citizens have zero say wether the TPP is approved or not.

There is nothing "FREE" about this "free trade" agreement!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

tpp of course is an ambitious (and difficult) plan from the beginning. any new ideas (esp big ones) are always bound to meet critical views from all sides. that is good as it does mean that govn'ts have to do more perhaps to keep things more transparent and in order.

in order for japan to meet her own challenges, to some extent she does also need to diversify her own economy.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

99% of Japanese citizens have zero say wether the TPP is approved or not.

It requires Diet approval. Also, people in Japan can choose to buy things not from TPP.

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

tinawatanabe: "Recently many Japanese companies in USA have been charged enormous amount of money by US govt."

Like which companies, tina? Takata for criminal negligence resulting in death and failure to provide proper documentation in regards to defects? Companies engaged in bribery and price-fixing when both are illegal? Yes, tina, a lot of Japanese companies in the US have recently been fined for CRIMINAL ACTIVITY, and that is a good thing, is it not? Or would you rather the illegalities be accepted for Japanese companies?

As for this TPP deal, I think Canada's stance on this part is pretty common sense, and the US stance is over the top. But dojinshi in some cases deserve to be put out of existence.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

I'm more concerned about ending the censorship in Japan. That makes any sort of concern about parody and self-published works moot.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

smith, If I'm not mistaken, Takata hasn't found the cause of the problem so they couldn't report. But US govt is accusing Takata for not reporting. Now, some car companies joined forces to find the cause. I think they are working hard.

My concern is not the detail of Takata case or Toyota or K Line or many other J companies who were fined by US govt. I'm worried about the possibility of new legal system where US govt can sue Japanese companies in Japan or that Americans can sue Japanese in Japan at US court.

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

tinawatanabe: "smith, If I'm not mistaken,"

You ARE mistaken. The cause has been found, and Takata just refuses to cooperate on nation-wide recalls even though the companies have already had the common sense to recall themselves.

"My concern is not the detail of Takata case or Toyota or K Line or many other J companies who were fined by US govt. "

Really? Then what about you're post:

"Recently many Japanese companies in USA have been charged enormous amount of money by US govt."?

Is this like when you say you don't speak for all Japanese but speak for all Japanese?

"I'm worried about the possibility of new legal system where US govt can sue Japanese companies in Japan or that Americans can sue Japanese in Japan at US court."

Why shouldn't they be able to if Japan is committing illegal activities? You realize that if the law passes Japan also has the right to sue US companies in the US for doing the same thing, right? Don't you think that's a good thing? Or is it just that in other countries this whole silly dojinshi thing doesn't exist to the same extent if at all because creativity is required?

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

US court is jury system so American jury deciding right or wrong about what Japanese are doing in Japan? We have different value and way of thinking, so we shouldn't interfere each other otherwise you'd sue Japan's shrine or dolphin or everything you don't like to suit your likes.

-3 ( +8 / -11 )

America's copyright, trademark and patent laws are out of control, and stifling not just creative expression, but killing business innovation. They have already exported enough of this, at the behest of giant corporations who want to squash competition.

The irony is that Hollywood was founded in California to escape the patents laws that were being abused by Edison and his lawyers on the East Coast. If they hadn't been able to escape that, there would be no Hollywood as we know it today, and probably not much a movie industry in the US. Now US corporations, with Hollywood in the lead, are using their political contacts to do this worldwide.

I wouldn't trust any TPP as long as the US is making the rules.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The U.S. is pushing for a broad definition of a criminal violation of copyright, where even noncommercial activities could get people convicted of a crime.

U.S. copyright laws are the most draconian and idiotic in the world, subverting the entire intent of copyright. The U.S. should be copying Europe, not the other way around.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Whether "Dozinshi" worth being preserved or not would be controversial, this potential new law regarding the violations of copyrights seems a bit extreme. It might prevent cultures from spreading.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

tinawatanabeFEB. 22, 2015 - 01:51PM

It requires Diet approval. Also, people in Japan can choose to buy things not from TPP????

I said that 99% of Japanese citizens have zero say wether the TPP is APPROVED or NOT.

Either you didn't read my comment or you don't know how to respond to the content of it. Are you claiming that the 722 diet members make up more than 1% of japans population?

Secondly, having NO say wether the TPP is approved or not, has nothing to do with "choosing to buy TPP products.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Doesn't the U.S. have a "fair use" rule for copyrighted material, which explicitly allowed parodies? I wish this rule would extend to more regions in the world.

I remember reading somewhere that Japan technically didn't have such a clause (someone was using it to explain why Japanese Wikipedia articles often lack pictures) but that the copyright holders simply let doujin creators do what they want, because it just gets their franchises more popularity anyway.

So this whole deal with the TPP supposedly imposing rules on Japan which would impact parodies seems a bit hypocritical, like the U.S is saying it's okay if they parody stuff, but everybody else has to pay.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

randomenigmaFeb. 22, 2015 - 09:15PM JST Doesn't the U.S. have a "fair use" rule for copyrighted material, which explicitly allowed parodies? I wish this rule would extend to more regions in the world.

U.S. copyright isn't so much "law" as a mess of contradictory precedent, international agreements (many of which contradict each other) and concepts like "fair use" that are constantly changing and being challenged with no apparent rhyme or reason apart from the amount of money the company is prepared to throw behind the lawsuit.

Some companies spell out "fair use", like the APA which lists on its website what does or does not require permission for use.

Most companies do not, and because "fair use" is so ill-defined in the U.S.A. you then have to either fold your cards before the court proceedings and pay a small amount to the company as a token or take the chance of being hit for MASSIVE fines if you lose the case - and even if you win you'll have spent a small fortune in legal fees, so it is a lose-lose scenario.

Unsurprisingly most people aren't willing to take the gamble and a formal threatening letter is enough to make people and websites remove material.

The bottom line is that the idea of fair use exists in U.S. law, but in reality it is a sham, and most people simply cannot afford to argue the issue in court.

In most countries in Europe the idea is much more clearly defined and judges won't even consider cases where it is clearly "fair use" or "public domain".

So don't praise the U.S. legal system when it comes to copyright, it is a massive mess and hugely stacked in favor of whoever has the largest budget... and companies have HUGE copyright defence budgets because the law is that if you don't defend your copyright then you lose it, so one can't really blame companies too much either. Its the legal system that sucks.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

the TPP would bring an end to Comiket and Doujinshi as western puritan values and sense of copyright show up in the market place.

it would not show up overnight- as first they would need to navigate the law framework of Japan- but once done and once the first notices went out- well the whole convention circuits would shut down overnight.

from the US perspective it would be wonderful - not that it did anything for a US property mind you- just that it allows for support of US ailing patent and royalty laws.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@tinawatanabeFEB. 22, 2015 - 10:37AM JST Recently many Japanese companies in USA have been charged enormous amount of money by US govt. If Japan joined TPP, I'm afraid they(US) could charge even the other Japanese companies that do not have branches in USA.

'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''' Never heard above info. Are there US corporations beside Boeing, GM and Ford in USA? If above info is true, then abou all US industries were charged. US Congress were too busy with Obamacare and Immigration and how and when US Govt charged to Japan Inc? How come Tennesee,etc that depend on Japan Inc in their stated hasn;t xcomplained?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This Canadian doesn't like TPP, not just because of the US's draconian copyright laws, but because it's the US president, not elected representatives that wants to dictate its terms. Canada's Prime Minister and International Trade Minister at least listen to their constituents, as much as they listen to Corporate Canada.

The way for any of us to make an impact is to write to those representatives and express our opinions and concerns, not to flail about on discussions forums like this one.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Not all US Court procedure use Jury system. Either Palintiff or Defenders can request or oppose jury used procedure. The csses that are involved with less than $5001 do not use jurors. Very many cpurts such as divorce, etc in USA. Beside that, juror tampering occurs. /Jurors are separated sociey and Court has to pay hotel cost during trial. So discussion by peer judges are prewferred

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Joining TPP would be a mistake of CATASTROPHIC proportions. Just say NO!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Just say NO!

But thats the point isnt it? No one can say no as it is decided by politicians, not by public vote.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Tina and Frungy: basically, I agree with you.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Why not just BOYCOTT the Corporations?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

TPP would kill Comiket

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I'm still in favour of TPP, I think in the long run it's better for the developed nations economic system and could make things more efficient than they already are. The copyright issue might need some tweaking however.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I can totally live without Disney but I'd be veryupset if the extension of copyright law will eliminate many of current public domain works on Aozora Bunko and whatnot.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

After reading comments here and then going and doing some research, I'm completely convinced this TPP thing is one of the worst ideas floated to reverse hundreds of years of political and economic progress for the little person. Forget constitutions. It's like these cats would love to go all the way back and reverse the Magna Carta if they could. Age of Reason, meet Age of Oligarchism.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Norice no Calif lawmakers are visiting to promote TPP. They used to demand exporting Calif rice to Japan. New Aroma etc rice cookers, short grain rice work fine, but not long grain. After report of Japanese live longer life, rice sales increased in USA. Visit USA restaurants, they use short grain rice for Pilaf, Chinese Fried Rice, etc. So, now other state want to export their crops rto Japan. Many Japanese breweries export their beer. etc to USA. They import wheat type crops from Europe. There is a Kyowa Hakko Kirin Beer but these congress men who went to Japan are more interested in sellinb their dry field cultivated rice to Japan than wheat to Japan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

http://hodanren.doc-net.or.jp/tpp/130624tpp-e.html

This is why I am against TPP also.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

TPP= US neoimperialism/neocolonialism

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Because Japan has been known as a country thatt eat rice three times a day, these US politicians want to push Japan to import long grain rice and that will help one of them will become GOP presidential candidate to defeat Hilary. They don;t know Sushi do not use long grain rice.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I ignore copyright laws as they have only been passed as a result of bribes paid to politicians.

It will be interesting to see how the US position on IP rights changes once China owns a sufficient number of patents and starts sueing US companies for violations.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Most of what the article is concerned with is ALREADY criminal infringement if the publishers decide to pursue it. Doujinshi authors are using licensed characters in books without any compensation to the original artists and/or character designers.

Regarding Scanlation and fansubbing, what usually happens on one of the scanlation (scanned, translated, and put on the website) sites I frequent is they get a Cease & Desist (C&D) order for chapters that the publisher found scanlated on the website. The website owner then removes the identified chapters and marks them as blocked for re-upload. They try to avoid the whole C&D sequence by voluntarily removing a title if the title becomes officially licensed in the scanlator's language. Some publisher's don't care as long as the title isn't licensed in a given language, but others do. The upshot is that if the publishers wanted to shut down ALL scanlation/fansubbing, they already have the tools to do it and WHATEVER ends up in the TPP isn't going to change that.. I think it's a trade-off between protecting their licenses and looking like a-holes for going after people who aren't making any money off the publisher's work (unlike the doujinshi sellers).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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