NicoNico Douga’s fortunes may be turning once again, for we hear that the Japanese government, specifically the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, is set to put into action a plan which would enshrine in law special “cyber-districts”, where authors using commercially held copyrighted works in their creations would be legally allowed to ignore the usual requirements for permission and royalties.
They are going so far as to request two billion yen with which to fund the plan, set for implementation in 2009, though the precise details are yet vague. The reasoning behind it is at least clear: this forms part of a broad set of policies designed to ensure Japanese Internet/telecommunications companies are not hampered in their international competitiveness by the outmoded copyright models of the previous century.
Little opposition from rights holders is apparent (though maybe Sunrise will be upset about this) – most of them are after all supportive of, or at least determined to ignore, the doujinshi world, recognising that it contributes indirectly to their revenues in a significant way, at the very least.
This move may well rescue Nico’s fortunes, so precarious after the Great Anime Wipe of ’08, seemingly covering MADs (online audiovisual doujinshi) in their entirety, and the sites upon which they are shared. There is always scope for loopholes, however, so these policies may yet turn out to have unexpected elements.
You may very well recall the similar initiative to legalise doujinshi proper – whilst Japan may still be as badly governed as any other developed nation, their civil servants are known for being a sharp and forward thinking bunch, and it seems we might construe such moves as evidence of this.