Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Last night Larry Lessig asked me if I had read his blog entry about the new Japanese copyright law that will put the burden of proof on the defendant. I had, but I didn't blog it because it's sort of the same-old same-old. To me, what was interesting was how suprising it was to Larry. ;-) Of course it is a bad law and a stupid thing and I will now point out this stupidity and unfairness when I have the opportunity. But on reflection, I realize that I had recently gone through this with the National ID so I'm burned out.

So... It's unfair. What do you do? Call your congressman? Nope. That doesn't work in Japan. Protest? No one cares. Write the paper? Nope. They're biased. Go to the bureaucrats? Sue the government? Get the signatures of all of the heads of all of the factions of the LDP and push on the cabinet? I tried that, it doesn't work. Vote? The problem is... Even if EVERYONE thinks something is stupid, you can't stop what has been set in motion. Having said that, there are the occasional journalists and writers who seem to be able to make a difference after a multi-year campaign, fighting in public, but it's quite an effort. The other problem is, there is no shortage of stupid laws. I feel like Bilbo taking on Saurons' army by himself. Arrgh. Sorry if I sound frustrated.

Lawrence Lessig
IP extremism moves east

The Nikkei is reporting today that the government will propose a law to "enhance copyright holder protection." You can't read the story without buying a trial subscription (aka, that's bad enough). But worse is the substance of what the Nikkei reports. The story reports what has been reported often before: That the legislation will increase copyright terms for movies and games from 50 to 70 years (again invoking the bogus harmonization argument). But the most amazing proposed change is this:Plaintiffs in lawsuits defending their copyrights often have difficulty submitting evidence that offenders have infringed upon their rights. So the government aims to shift the burden of proof to the defendants, requiring them to prove that they have produced and marketed their products without violating the plaintiffs' rights.

That's a quote from the story, and as the story has a bunch of factual mistakes in it, I can't be sure it is accurate. But if true, it means that in Japan, you're guilty until proven innocent.

I'll be reviewing the draft law as soon as I can, and reporting more. But the bottom line is the same: IP extremism continues unabated. There's so much to praise in this amazing country. It is sad to see them following the extremists.

1 Comment

It's clearly important to keep getting the word out about unreasonable copyrights, whether they be by the US Supreme Court or Japanese laws. If we realize that this is a global problem, not just local to the US, then it'll mean more to us all over the world to work to support greater copyright freedoms. It is tiring to work for change but I know you would agree that it is worth it.

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