Thirteen of Japan's leading film production companies have claimed copyright infringement damages from people who had pirated and condensed some of their films into “quick movies” for about 10 minutes, then posting them online. Lawyers for the production companies said this is the first civil lawsuit against so-called “fast movies” in Japan, a format that became very popular during the coronavirus pandemic, especially among younger viewers.
The lawsuit began Thursday in a Tokyo court and was initiated among others by Shochiku, Toei, Nippon Television and the Toho Company, which for example produced the film Shin Godzilla, one of over thirty dedicated to the legendary “King dei Mostri “, and Ai amu a hîrô (I am a Hero), a 2015 horror movie. guilty, with suspension of sentence, of having extrapolated parts of some of their films without their permission, condensing them into short versions which they then published on YouTube.
As reported by the Japanese newspaper Asahi, the three people managed four channels on YouTube and between 2020 and 2021 they had published on the platform more than 50 “fast films”, obtaining substantial gains in advertising revenues. According to a Tokyo association that works to fight piracy, in June 2021 the “quick movies” shared on YouTube had been viewed almost 480 million times.
Quick movies have become very popular in Japan in recent years. They are videos whose authors condense a film in a few minutes, showing all the most important scenes, the twists and the most spectacular moments. According to film production companies, this would be one of the reasons why the number of Japanese people going to the cinema dropped significantly after the pandemic.
The phenomenon of “fast films” particularly concerns films produced by Japanese film companies because they are less likely to sue than, for example, American production companies. Generally, most production companies in Japan are discouraged from taking legal action against piracy due to the large waste of time and excessive costs, Koichi Oyama, one of the lawyers representing the prosecution, told the Financial Times. In the case of “quick movies” shared on the Internet, however, companies fear that they will actually lose a large portion of the audience and, consequently, a large part of their revenue, explained Oyama.
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