On Wednesday, officials from Miyagi Prefectural and the Miyagi town of Minamisanriku detained a 52-year-old man and YouTuber in Nagoya City.
The arrest is on suspicion of breaking the Copyright Act by allegedly uploading gameplay footage of visual novels and anime.
The Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA) emphasised in its own arrest notice that this is the first arrest in Japan for an upload or stream of gaming video.
The suspect has allegedly uploaded footage of Nitroplus’ Steins; Gate: My Darling’s Embrace game and made money through ad monetization on the video.
The person is also accused of editing and uploading subtitled and narrated videos from the Steins; Gate, and SpyxFamily.
According to Kadokawa (the rights holder for Steins’ Gate), the suspect has been uploading anime material since 2019.
The video that breached Nitroplus and Kadokawa’s criteria is an hour-long “Jikky Play” video (similar to “Let’s Play” videos) with over 800,000,000 views.
Some Japanese YouTube users have recently published “fast content” or “fast movies”.
These short films summarise movies or series using actual footage, edited with subtitles and voiceover.
Though there is no industry-wide standard, media companies and game developers frequently set guidelines for how much and which sections of their games content creators are allowed to stream or upload. Even which content is allowed to be monetized is determined by the developers.
These guidelines are made by the developer on a per-game basis. Such guidelines are designed to discourage spoiler content.
This also prevents content providers from benefiting from posting story content in a story-heavy game.
Spike Chunsoft has established strict guidelines for its Danganronpa games. These guidelines specify limits like “until the first chapter” or “until you have your seventh ally.”
Other companies, such as Aniplex, Type-Moon, Atlus, and Bandai Namco Entertainment, have also imposed restrictions on streaming certain story content or interface elements to varying degrees.
Some may even forbid streaming or screenshotting the entire game. Developers can also use console functions to prevent users from recording or capturing the game during these moments.
However, some brands and games have more permissive limits for gameplay footage uploads and monetization. This is common in action or combat-heavy games, where player involvement generates unique gameplay videos.
Companies like Capcom frequently allow the monetization of footage from their Resident Evil, Monster Hunter, or Devil May Cry series.
Nintendo permits the monetization of gameplay footage for content creators who are members of the YouTube Partner Programme. Though they previously had a more restrictive Creator’s Programme in place.
CODA is a trade organisation comprising 32 Japanese corporations dedicated to reducing global piracy and promoting Japanese content’s international dissemination.
In April 2022, companies and organisations from over 13 nations founded the International Anti-Piracy Organisation (IAPO). These included CODA, the Motion Picture Association of America, and the Copyright Society of China at the helm.
In June 2020, Japan’s parliament passed a revised copyright law that will penalise people who intentionally download unlawfully posted or pirated manga, periodicals, and academic papers.
Beginning in October 2020, the amended rule will also prohibit “leech sites” that gather and distribute hyperlinks to pirated media.