Movie Pirates in Japan Would Have to be More Retarded than the Release Dates

Every time you to see a movie in Japan, you see this anti-piracy commercial from the Motion Picture Producer's Association of Japan. No More is their current campaign. Previously, they featured a girl crying black tears that turned into a skull, proclaiming that she wouldn't watch pirated movies. I prefer the dancing anachronistic video camera to the melodramatic appeal to pathos.

Not only are the spots ridiculously corny, but you're paying ¥1,800 (over US$18) for a ticket. It's more than a bit insulting to be subjected to an anti-piracy message before a movie that you paid that much for as a legitimate customer.

It's especially annoying when in some cases you could buy the blu-ray for nearly the same price only a couple of months later. Japan is one of the last places in the world you'd pirate a movie from. You'd have to be a movie pirating moran to record a movie in a Japanese theater and attempt to sell it anywhere else. Who are you going to sell it to? People in Kazakhstan, or Djbouti?

Lord of the Rings was released in Japan 2 months, 3 weeks after its premiere in the UK. Only Egypt, India, and Bulgaria got the movie after Japan did on its initial release. I remember this very well because that was at the beginning of my second year in Japan. I'd been reading about its impending release, and then hearing about how great it was for months before I could actually go see it myself.

Let's take a look at recent big-budget movies. The Avengers was released 3 months, 3 days after the rest of the world, last on the list. Star Trek Into Darkness; Japan is also listed as being the last release date. It will be released in August, over 3 1/2 months after the rest of the world. Pacific Rim will be released at the beginning of August. Only Spain, South Africa, and Greece will get it later than Japan.

And these are major releases with big budget marketing campaigns behind them. Minor movies might be even more delayed, or occasionally never released in Japan. Cashback, (which I earlier wrote about being censored) was released to Japanese theaters for a single week nearly 2 years after its release in other countries, following its inclusion in the Osaka Film Festival.

There are very few movies released in the last decade that have been released anywhere near enough to concurrently with other regions to make piracy possible. The anti-piracy commercials are stupid, pointless, and insulting. And yet, the people behind them have been successful in lobbying for imposing both civil and criminal penalties for downloading files that some studio somewhere might claim copyright to. The revised law also criminalizes ripping of any kind of encrypted media, like backing up DVDs and blu-rays, even if it's for private use. According to the wording, even watching a YouTube video is potentially illegal, if you know that viewing it is illegal.