The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

I’ve been a content creator all my life. Long before my career as a designer and then an editor, I sat in elementary school and crafted ideas for video games. I wasn’t a programmer, so it was an outlet for my imagination rather than a plan for something others could play. It was also a harbinger of the work I do today.

If you are reading this, you most likely know me as a writer, but I have also been a podcaster for 10 years. Both tasks require extensive research and the use of existing content—written, visual, and in some cases audio. Without access to such content, without the ability to supplement a story or commentary with a tangible example of what is being discussed, it is difficult to be an effective communicator.

It is for this reason that global shifts in the area of copyright law have caught my atten­tion. I firmly believe in the rights of the creator. It is critical to business that the creations of others—photos, music, brand names, or other assets—be protected. But automation and overzealous enforcement have created difficulties for many well-intentioned people and companies.

One such example is the September 2016 case of Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., in which the studio issued takedown notices for copyright infringement against its own website. It also asked Google to remove promotional links to The Dark Knight and The Matrix, two of its own films.

Taking down your own website is non-sensical and blocking promotion of your own creation is counterproductive. Both illustrate the need for a more reasonable, thoughtful, human-driven approach to copyright protection.

Also needed is a better understanding on the part of lawmakers as to how technology works. This point has been seen time and again during debates about internet regu­lations and intellectual property laws.

As I make my living from Tokyo, my ears perked up in February when it was revealed that Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs was proposing changes to the country’s copyright laws that could potentially make it impossible for me to legally do my job.

The bill is primarily intended to combat the online piracy of works such as manga. But, like so many laws crafted by those without an adequate understanding of technology, a strict interpretation would make even downloading a research paper or taking a screenshot a crime, an issue we explore in the story that starts here.

What I hope to see is a happy medium that protects the intellectual property of others while leveraging the power of content creation, commentary, and social sharing. It has never been possible to gain such wide exposure at such little cost. We live in a golden age of marketing and must be careful not to sacrifice the potential of our digital future by putting all content under lock and key.

Christopher Bryan Jones is Editor-in-Chief of The ACCJ Journal. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, he has lived in Japan since 1997.