Hello Kitty Joins Japan’s Copyright Piracy Fight

Hello Kitty joins Japan’s copyright piracy fight

Hello Kitty wants you to stop downloading pirated copies of One Piece (and other manga, too).

The internationally-famous mascot character was recently named a Copyright PR Ambassador for Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs. The nation’s Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, Koichi Hagiuda, announced the appointment last week.

The mouthless “not-a-cat” girl joined Minister Hagiuda at an official ceremony on July 29.

“We are paying attention to copyright in line with the revision of the Copyright Law, but I would like to tell Kitty about the goodness of the real thing,” Hagiuda said.

In a statement, Hello Kitty added that “I will do my best to make everyone aware of copyright.”

According to reports, Hello Kitty’s role as ambassador will be to spread awareness of copyright infringement and also inform people about recent changes to Japan’s copyright law.  She will appear in educational videos and school materials put out by the agency.

Amended Copyright Law

Hello Kitty joins Japan’s copyright piracy fight
From left, Hello Kitty and Minister Koichi Hagiuda

Hello Kitty’s appointment follows the National Diet’s decision in June to update Japan’s copyright law. The revision to the law will mean stronger punishments for those who download or share pirated manga, magazines, and academic texts. Existing rules already covered illegal online copies of videos and music.

Kyodo News states that “minor offenses” and “special instances” will be exempt from the amended legislation.  You won’t get in trouble if you “unintentionally captured” copyrighted material on your smartphone. Derivative works and parodies are also protected.

However, repeat offenders could pay a maximum of two million yen ($18,320), face up to two years in jail, or both. The new rules will take effect on Jan. 1.

A new ban on websites that provide hyperlinks to pirated material will take effect on Oct. 1.

Ambassador Hello Kitty

This is not Hello Kitty’s first role as an official ambassador. In 2009, the Sanrio character was named ambassador of Japanese tourism in China and Hong Kong. She was also named UNICEF Special Friend of Children.

In 2017, Hello Kitty promoted Osaka as a host city for the 2025 World Expo.  (Osaka won the right to host.)  The busy mascot also served as the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s Special Ambassador of the International Year; and was appointed Special Envoy (Mascot Character) for the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, among other things.

Sanrio, Content Overseas Distribution Association
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