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Hello Kitty hired to spread awareness of new Japanese copyright laws

By | Published on Monday 3 August 2020

Hello Kitty copyright ambassador

The Japanese government has appointed a new PR ambassador to front anti-piracy efforts in the country. Kitty White – better known as Hello Kitty – will raise awareness of recent changes to copyright law in Japan.

At a ceremony last week, Japan’s Minister Of Education, Culture, Sports, Science And Technology, Koichi Hagita, officially announced Hello Kitty’s new role in the battle against online copyright infringement. “I will do my best to make everyone aware of copyright”, the fictional character then said in a statement.

In that role, Kitty will have to make Japanese internet users aware of the new amendments to the country’s copyright laws, which were enacted in June. Those changes mean there are now new penalties for sharing or downloading digital comic books, magazines and academic texts without permission – basically bringing those things in line with existing rules for music and video.

And I think we can all agree, it’s much more pleasant to learn that those who repeatedly pirate comics, magazines and textbooks now face a large fine and/or a jail sentence of up to two years from a cartoon cat. Operators of piracy sites, meanwhile, face larger fines and sentences of up to five years. Meow.

The unauthorised online sharing of Japanese comic books – or manga – is a particular problem in the country. Although previous efforts to curb such activities through legislation failed after manga artists complained that they were so strict that they would limit legitimate sharing as well.

In a statement about his new PR ambassador, Hagita said: “Because the new law of copyright has been established and the public’s consciousness is changing little by little, I want Kitty to firmly convey the real splendour of genuine products”.

The copyright cat will also have an international aspect to her work too, attempting to convince other countries to likewise tighten their anti-piracy laws. As for many countries, one problem Japan faces in its anti-piracy battle is that many copyright infringing websites are located on servers in other countries, where it is harder to identify infringers and shut down their operations.

Japan’s Content Overseas Distribution Association said it would use Hello Kitty to “appeal widely” to audiences around the world while it bangs on relentlessly about the importance of protecting copyright in Japan and beyond.

Asked by TorrentFreak if anyone other than Hello Kitty had been considered for the role, CODA’s Director Of Overseas Copyright Protection, Masaharu Ina, said: “Are you serious? No way”.

“She is one of the most well-known celebrities and is loved by everybody worldwide”, he went on. “And she respects and takes copyright seriously. We admire her for her motto ‘Everyone in the world is my friend’. Isn’t she lovely and perfect for [explaining] the importance of copyright protection to the world sweetly?”

Well, I guess at this stage in the never-ending battle against online piracy, anything’s worth a try.