Japanese content industry against YouTube

Copy this blog links to a recent Mainichi article that is a fine addition to my previous entry: “YouTube” Web site has Japan’s broadcasters in a tizzy.

According to the article, “the number of Japanese Netizens visiting the ‘YouTube’ site has gone through the roof” in recent months. This seems plausible, given the high number of YouTube vids with titles and descriptions in Japanese — Google Trends also nicely illustrates the upward tendency.

The Japanese media, sensing its proprietary material is being illegally reproduced, appears to be swiftly abandoning its heretofore hands-off position toward YouTube. NHK recently contacted the site’s operators to demand that a video clip of the children’s song “Supu no Ekaki Uta” that had been broadcast on May 30 installment of the “Okasan to Issho” TV show, be removed.

And it seems that NHK is not alone: JASRAC, Avex Entertainment, Yomiuri Telecasting Corp., Tokyo Broadcasting, Fuji Television Network, Sony Japan, Yahoo Japan Corporation, and other Japanese companies have also sent C&D requests to YouTube resulting in content being taken offline.

Back to the Mainichi article:

One of Japan’s top promoters of showbiz talent, Johnny’s Jimusho, the office of Johnny Kitagawa, said it is mulling legal action to make sure its performer’s rights are not infringed upon. A spokesman for the agency said it was determined to “root out” YouTube and similarly predatory web sites.

Towards the end, the author of the article (which is a WaiWai publication, and therefor does not necessarily represent Mainichi’s views) makes a bold statement against the recent YouTube crackdown—a stance that is rather rare for Japanese news publications:

If networks find it so annoying to see their lowbrow contents being recycled on the Web, perhaps the only solution will be for them to cease broadcasting it.


Update 2006-07-21: earlier today NTV has requested YouTube to take down several clips (the most popular one being viewed 3,206,473 times in less than two days!) featuring comedian Kato Koji painfully apologizing for his partner Yamamoto Keiichi’s alleged misconduct. Although NTV has the rights to this content, there are two things I don’t get about this takedown. 1. Where’s the harm? This is news, but without retail value — I’m pretty sure NTV doesn’t have plans for commercializing this clip. 2. Why, oh why, is YouTube removing the thousands of comments on these videos? This isn’t far from censorship…

Update 2006-07-22: In this ITMedia article, NTV says that they considered the two minute clips a clear copyright infringement and that they are happy YouTube was willing to cooperate so quickly. (Thanks, Miho!)

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  1. The attempted removal of the Supu vid was due more to NHK’s anger at the parodies that have come out, mocking the drawing skill of the female performer.

    Besides, isn’t NHK a publicly funded company??

    » Austin on July 6th, 2006 at 06:05

  2. […] I’m not sure what sparked the interest in changing the current system — one answer might be “YouTube,” which is very popular in Japan and shows the clear interest in quick-n-dirty online TV content (this in contrast to the relatively low interest in DTV, by the way). Another answer however is possible too: according to the same Yomiuri article, the committee in charge, “a panel tasked with studying how to develop universal Internet access in Japan,” also “proposes extending the period of copyright protection from the current 50 years after the death of rights’ holders to 80 years.” Needless to say, there is probably some “balance” talk involved here — you can already hear the broadcasters say something along the lines of: “if you make registration compulsory, that’s fine, but then we want longer protection.” So, worst case scenario: the broadcasters register all their copyrights, refuse to license it to any web-based TV distributors, and Japan is stuck with a protection term of 80 years for all works (after first broadcast / after the author’s death / etc.). Also note that “80 years” is more than the “70 years” review previously called for. […]

    » chosaq » A dangerous deal: compulsory registration for broadcasts + longer protection on September 4th, 2006 at 18:57

  3. […] As a result of this members have had their videos removed by Yomiuri and some even had their accounts suspended! Apparently this is not a new happening. The blog chosaq links to an Mainichi article stating many Japanese corporations including NHK, Fuji TV, and Yahoo Japan have issued recent “cease &&& desist” action to get content removed. […]

    » Anime, YouTube, and Me &« Part-Time Otaku on September 22nd, 2006 at 04:29

  4. […] Update 2006-10-23: Spicing things up a bit, last week, YouTube has taken 29,549 videos down after a request by JASRAC. This is not the first time the Japanese content industry asks YouTube to take down videos, but it’s the biggest mass removal so far. N.B. Be sure to check out this cute JASRAC parody, posted two days ago. […]

    » chosaq » Google buying lawsuit, YouTube music video deal and Universal suing Grouper on October 23rd, 2006 at 12:35

  5. […] two days). However, I did not start the rumor about youtube taking down AMVs. I linked to a blog ( in my original post. I meant to post where I originally found the […]

    » Youtube Rumors Clarification « Anime Horizons — A New Way of Thinking on November 24th, 2007 at 13:51

  6. Is this why I can’t find anime on youtube?

    » anime fan on February 15th, 2008 at 12:02