If you happen to come from KPop fandom when you recently gained interest in getting to know more about JO1, as well as PRODUCE 1O1 JAPAN in general, it’s likely you’ll start asking questions about JPop fandom culture and mannerisms, especially on the internet and SNS altogether. As you start to make new friends/moots in JO1/PDJP fandom, it’s also likely you’ll also observe these moots and how they behave when they start hyping their favorite oshis and responding to other moots regarding their oshis being hyped up, etc. etc.
Any respectable new fan would take the time to get to learn this brand-new fandom culture by observing and asking questions about anything. If you come from the anime/manga/video games fandom and are familiar with the famed anisongs played as opening and ending themes of your favorite anime, there are some similarities. And then there are a few out there who join in the fandom thinking everything in JPop is the same as KPop and certain behaviors you’re used to in your previous fandom is normal. If you come from the latter group, it’s highly suggested that you forget everything about how KPop works when you start to get to know JO1 (and/or PDJP) and how the JPop industry works.
If you’re from KPop fandom and have been getting to warm up to JO1 for awhile now, you may notice a few things:
- JAMs are not posting any fancams on any Twitter trends (like what KPop fans would normally do)
- JAMs do not post a lot of photos that we haven’t seen before except for the ones we see in online news outlets, official SNS, etc. Not even scans from magazines or newspapers even.
- JAMs are not posting any full videos of TV show episodes in which JO1 is a guest.
- You’ve seen some JAMs posting some videos of these TV show episodes with JO1 as guests or from the freebie DVD content from the Type A PROTOSTAR CD. Then the next day or so, they (both the video clips and even the person who shared/posted the clips) no longer exist.
- There are no airport video footage of JO1 (or any JPop group for the matter) like the KPop groups we see posted by Newsen 1
Some of you may start to question if Japanese fans aren’t just into sharing anything related to JO1 or any I-JAMs too lazy to post any of these above. Neither of these thoughts are the reason why things listed above are facts about this fandom. There is only one major reason: the very restrictive Japanese copyright laws.
Japanese Copyright Restrictions in a Nutshell
I’m not a lawyer, nor familiar with anything legal-related, so instead, I’ll just provide you certain materials that we are not allowed to post in public. At times, this may be on a case-by-case basis, but this pretty much applies to the entire Japanese entertainment and media industry:
What we are allowed to share on SNS:
- Official photos posted by official Twitter and Instagram accounts (JO1, magazine outlets, etc.)
- Official videos posted by official Twitter and Instagram accounts, as well as those from online magazine sites (JO1, magazine outlets, etc.)
- Fan taken videos from public events only if the agency and/or the event organizer allows them to. 2
- Translations of magazine articles (both from online magazines and printed magazines, as long as the original source is indicated) 3
What we are NOT allowed to share on SNS:
The restrictions also apply towards official news agencies and outlets outside Japan unless if they were given permission by the agency and/or event organizer. 4
- fancams of any kind
- Full and/or partial clips of TV shows, 5 live events, DVD/Blu-ray content.
- Fan-edited videos. Providers (YouTube channels) have to be very careful and discreet in the length and content type to avoid any copyright strikes
- Scans of magazine photos and articles from the original printed magazine sources
- Any type of content coming from paid sources (FC, PM (Private Mail) service, subscriptions, etc.)
- Any type of content coming from the released CDs6
- Any live event personal photos of yourself and your oshis during hi-touch events (meet & greet sessions), unless permitted by the agency and/or event organizer.
I’m pretty sure that after you read these restrictions lists, you start to think that Japanese copyright laws are silly and you also wonder how it would help JO1 and J-Pop groups become more popular globally when these restrictions are in place. I’ll cover this later.
Consequences in violating any of the Japanese copyright restrictions
Some of you may probably be thinking that “Well, I don’t live in Japan, I don’t have to follow their copyright restrictions,” or anything similar. It’s not as easy as you think. Regardless of your location, these copyright restrictions are also applied to foreign fans as well. And when you do get caught, there are going to be consequences, and it’s a lot harsher than you think.
- Deletion and/or suspension of your entire account (Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc.)
- If you continue to violate the copyright laws even after the lifting of your suspension ban of your channel, it can get worse. Not only that you will be banned from these SNS platforms, but there’s also a possibility that you can get sued by the copyright owners (agency, TV stations, magazine publishers, event organizers, etc.) and fined.
- Tying to the item above, as of 2018, copyright violations also became considered as a criminal offense in Japan. You can face both a nasty fine and jail time. 7
And if you think those already hurt, this one will hurt a lot more as a fan:
- Continued violations by fans of particular J-Pop artists/groups may also limit these same artists/groups from getting future (promotional) opportunities, such as being featured in magazine articles and to guest/appear on TV variety shows and public events. The artists/groups may also be blocked/banned by radio stations as well from airing their singles or even make guest appearances on radio shows. In short, continuous copyright violations by fans can also hurt their favorite artists/groups’ careers significantly. 8
To sum this up, the copyright violation consequences will hurt all of us— the fans and even our favorite artists/groups. So, in other words, don’t even try turning JPop fandom culture into KPop-style fandom culture by doing the same acts as most KPop fans on SNS. 9
Japan is the Second Largest Music Industry in the World
KPop may be a global phenomenon right now, but Japan still continues to be the second largest music industry in the world, and these strict copyright laws play a huge significant part of it. Japanese fans are generally loyal to their favorite artists/groups that they will consume as many items related to their oshis as long as the artists/groups and fandoms continue to be active, regardless of their level of popularity in the music scene. If a artist/group has a solid fanbase, the life of their careers will have a significant amount of longevity. But, this is more about J-Pop’s marketing system, and that’s a separate topic.
Because of fan loyalty, fans do go crazy with anything that has their oshis mentioned or featured in them. They will spend a huge amount of money just for these items. They will still purchase the CDs, even if most artists/groups even put up all of their new releases on streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Google Play Music, etc. To avoid getting caught from everything mentioned above, here are some things fans should do:
- Purchase their CD releases— all types if you want all of the freebies included… and pretty much whatever items/paraphernalia available that you can afford
- Join the FC and reap its benefits to your own personal enjoyment
- Join the PM and receive emails (and photos) from your favorite oshis
- Be sure to check out agency restrictions as well, as every J-Pop agency has their own set of rules as well
The MOST IMPORTANT tip that EVERYONE must abide by:
DO NOT SHARE any of what you paid for to anyone else in public!
How do JPop Artists/Groups become popular globally without getting caught due to copyright laws?
This is where your networking skills on Twitter is needed. Go find some moots of the same fandom as you, get to know them, be friends with them. Then you’ll be able to gain resources and connections through these moots:
- Fan art culture: This doesn’t just apply to J-Pop, but the entire Japanese entertainment industry. Because of strict copyright restrictions on most of the media, namely photos and/or screenshots, many fans use their creative skills to create and share fan art in public. Fan art can also be used as a curiosity key to those who have never heard of a particular J-Pop artist/group and/or those who are not familiar with J-Pop at all. Fan art doesn’t just limit to traditional and digital illustrations, but it also applies to crafts as well, such as stickers, embroidery, cake, handmade stationery, etc.
- Some fans (namely international fans) have separate private accounts that certain users can access, where they share original photos and scans and other content. For example, there is a private Twitter account that provides translations of FC-only content, but only FC-member fans are able to access to it. The operators behind the private fan account will require proof of FC membership for users who wish to gain access to its content.
- Hosted blog/journal services, such as LiveJournal and Dreamwidth, are also available. But you are required to sign up an account to access the content hosted by these services.
The tip in the pink box above still applies:
The MOST IMPORTANT tip that EVERYONE must abide by:
DO NOT SHARE any of what you have access to anyone else in public! After all, if these contents were under private accounts, it’s automatically assumed that these contents should not be shared in public at all.
I can understand lack of funds or you just can’t afford to buy any items mentioned above, but it’s still a preferred method to just abide by the copyright laws 10 and do the right thing for yourself, your fellow fans, and your oshis.
If there is anything else I missed or if you have any questions regarding the basics, feel free to reach out.
There are probably a lot of things I may not have mentioned in this post, but you can check out some of these articles about Japanese copyright laws for further understanding of how it works. Abiding by these copyright laws have also become part of JPop fandom culture. Being discreet with the content that you have and the content that you want about your oshis without paying a single coin have also become part of the culture too.
- Japan: Copyright 2020
- Japanese Copyright Law Development
- Japan: Amendment to the Copyright Act – fair use? … if you’re a computer
- Broadcasting, media and entertainment law in Japan: Overview
- There was one of JO1 back in January when they arrived to Korea for debut training, which also outraged a lot of Japanese fans and the Japanese public. That was the only airport video posted by Newsen to ever exist of JO1. There aren’t anymore airport video footage of JO1 after that. Please keep reading.
- Most of the time, agencies and/or event organizers forbid fan-taken videos by default.
- I’ve heard that there are some magazine publishers who also do not allow translations of their articles being shared/posted in public, but so far, none of the translations posted suffered any copyright strikes.
- See footnote about the “airport video footages” by Newsen, for example.
- Short/small GIFs were posted and so far haven’t gotten any copyright strikes, but again, case by case basis.
- Example – Type A of the PROTOSTAR CD has a free DVD – footage coming from that freebie DVD are not allowed to be posted/shared in public.
- Geigner, Timothy. “Good Luck, Japan: Government About To Make All Copyright Infringement A Criminal Offense.” Techdirt, February 15, 2019.
- This is a major warning from various magazine publishers via their official Twitter accounts posted several months ago, and they periodically tweet the same thing over and over again.
- such as posting fancams on tweet replies or create memes based off of these video clips, etc. It doesn’t work that way in JPop.
- as well as JPop fandom etiquette— that’s another topic