Rampant illegal ‘fast movies’ pose questions about consumer awareness

Video clips on the internet include many that are suspected of having been illegally posted without the permission of copyright holders. It would be desirable if users refrain from casually viewing them.

Called “fast movies” in Japan, these videos posted online are digests of films that have been illegally edited into clips of 10 minutes or so. They have become rampant, leading relevant organizations to recognize them as a problem.

According to Japan’s Content Overseas Distribution Association, which takes measures against pirated movies and other content whose copyright has been infringed, about 2,100 “fast movies” were posted on 55 YouTube accounts as of June this year.

In many of these videos, clips from masterpiece films are posted with narration or subtitles explaining the synopsis and revealing the ending. There is no charge to watch these videos.

This means that the copyright holders are being deprived of the revenue they are supposed to receive through filmgoers at cinemas and DVD purchases or rentals. The damage has been estimated to be as high as ¥95 billion.

This is another huge blow for the film industry, which has seen its box office plunge amid the coronavirus pandemic. If the problem is left unaddressed, it could shake the foundations of the industry.

Some people who post “fast movies” claim that the videos are their creations and therefore not illegal. This is a serious misunderstanding. The appropriated footage is copyrighted content, and it is illegal to post any of it online without permission from copyright holders.

In June, the Miyagi prefectural police arrested on suspicion of violating the Copyright Law a group of people who had posted “fast movies” and had been earning advertising revenue from YouTube.

The man who had done the narrations reportedly told the police that he “casually” joined the group. He and others apparently will have to pay a heavy price for failing to recognize the illegal nature of the content they posted.

YouTube and other such platform operators should take thorough measures to promptly delete illegal videos. Additional, strengthened measures are necessary, such as suspending the payment of advertising fees to people during the period when the legitimacy of their videos is being screened.

“Fast movies” and illegally edited abstracts of books are rife on the internet. One reason behind this situation lies in consumer awareness as many people seek to efficiently access more information in a shorter period of time.

Subscription services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime are flooded with content, and more people are fast-forwarding through parts of movies and dramas they are watching. The pandemic has made people stay home longer, accelerating the trend of mass content consumption.

It is questionable whether the message the creators want to convey will reach those who want to just quickly grasp the plot.

The filmmakers and authors put their heart and soul into making their works on the premise that the audience will enjoy the entire story. Paying respect to their efforts must not be forgotten.