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Tokyo Demands YouTube Play Fair 239

Posted by Zonk
from the when-no-one-is-special-everyone-is dept.
eldavojohn writes "Recently, the city government of Tokyo has requested that political speeches to be pulled from YouTube, claiming that it gave certain hopefuls an advantage over others for Sunday's election. You may recall YouTube being in trouble with more than a few countries in the past. 'Japanese election law limits the broadcasting of speeches, which are aired only on public broadcaster NHK. Soon after the race kicked off last month, the speech by one fringe candidate, street musician Koichi Toyama, 36, has become a popular attraction on YouTube due to his eccentric, confrontational approach.' Is it fair that some government officials are being viewed more on YouTube than others or is it simply leveling the playing field for anyone with a message since it costs very little to put a video on YouTube?"
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Tokyo Demands YouTube Play Fair

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  • by Marrshu (994708) on Friday April 06, 2007 @11:45AM (#18634947)
    What's that, a new form of thought DRM?
    • by ajs (35943) <ajs@@@ajs...com> on Friday April 06, 2007 @02:08PM (#18637005) Homepage Journal
      At some point (we can only hope it will be soon), folks are going to realize that the phrase, "information wants to be free," is no more a statement of wishful thinking than, "gasses want to expand to fill their contianer." It's an anthropomorphic way of stating something fundamental about the physics of information with respect to large groups of humans.

      All attempts to a) disseminate information to large groups and b) control that dissemination will FAIL. They must fail. The energy required to contain information scales very much logarithmically with respect to the size of the group that receives it, and quickly becomes impractical. We're not telling the RIAA, MPAA, Japanese government, and many others that, "your information is something I should be allowed to have." Rather, we're trying to explain that, "your information is going to be knocking at my door several times a week, and if you make it illegal for me to answer my door, it's just going to end up with me going to jail... does that serve a purpose?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Syberghost (10557)
        Information wants to be free, but fiber optic cable wants to be $1 million US dollars per mile. - Shawn McMahon
  • Is it fair that some government officials are being viewed more on YouTube than others or is it simply leveling the playing field for anyone with a message since it costs very little to put a video on YouTube?.

    I guess that depends on which country you live in.

    • Re:Hummmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by draos (672972) on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:40PM (#18635741)
      I think it would be easy to apply a U.S. perspective to this and cry foul. But if Japan has publicly funded elections and strict, but fair rules about how candidates communicate then maybe they are justified in their action. It seems to me that a slightly stricter approach to election practices might take away the "guy with the most money wins" mentality that has come to dominate the U.S. process.

      Limits of free speech are sometimes justified (you can't cry fire in a theater) and this MAY be one of those occasions. Or not.
      • Re:Hummmm. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75&yahoo,com> on Friday April 06, 2007 @01:24PM (#18636363)
        I think it would be easy to apply a U.S. perspective to this and cry foul. But if Japan has publicly funded elections and strict, but fair rules about how candidates communicate then maybe they are justified in their action.

        I agree. The initial reaction among Americans to this news would likely be to cite "free speech" as justification for letting YouTube keep the clips up.

        But that's a very Amero-centric way of looking at the world, and is rooted in the same kind of thinking that now has us in trouble in Iraq and is responsible for the dim view taken of us by the rest of the world.

        If Japan's laws say speeches can't be broadcast except through government-controlled TV, then I'm sorry, but that's the law. And if Google wants to do business in Japan (as they do), then they need to respect local laws. A US company should not be trying to impose US law or US cultural norms on Japan.

        It's perfectly within YouTube's power to geo-restrict these videos to parts of the world where they're allowed. Yes, you can get around those restrictions if you really want to, but there's no reason they shouldn't take reasonable measures to comply with Japanese laws with regard to Japanese videos.
        • by SL Baur (19540)

          If Japan's laws say speeches can't be broadcast except through government-controlled TV, then I'm sorry, but that's the law. And if Google wants to do business in Japan (as they do), then they need to respect local laws. A US company should not be trying to impose US law or US cultural norms on Japan.

          Very true. I have a fairly low opinion of Japanese election laws, but it's their country and they make the rules, for better or for worse. (Far, far worse is that they preempt Sumo, oh no!)

          Think of this one as one of the silly McCain campaign finance "reform" laws.

        • The initial reaction among Americans to this news would likely be to cite "free speech"

          ... not as if America has a great record in this regard; we have some fairly ridiculous censorship laws on our books (by which YouTube MUST abide, or they WILL be shut down by the gov't) because we're always ThinkingOfTheChildren. Take a look at YouTube's code of conduct [youtube.com]. Maybe that would be their code of content irrespective of the law in their host country... however, if somebody else created a YouTube fork that didn

        • Re:Hummmm. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by elioty (1084809) on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:11PM (#18639077)

          A US company should not be trying to impose US law or US cultural norms on Japan.
          Impose cultural norms on them? Google/YouTube provides a service that allows users to upload videos. That's it. They're not "imposing" anything.

          The way I see it, if this service puts pressure on Japan's legal system they're free to try and stop it. However, the chances of them doing so in the long run is slim. I say buckle up and make some adjustments to the system. The sooner the better.
        • Re:Hummmm. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Fordiman (689627) <fordimanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday April 06, 2007 @04:28PM (#18639351) Homepage Journal
          If japanese law is that japanese politics goes only through japanese TV, then the japanese politicians and supporters who put up the japanese politics are the ones to be reprimanded under japanese law, not YouTube.

          If you can't enforce the law within your jurisdiction, maybe it's time to review your law.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by packeteer (566398)
          A US company should not be trying to impose US law or US cultural norms on Japan.

          Why not? After all 'merica is an empire, not just a country. We Americans have been imposing our norms and culture all over the world for some time now. This would not be the first or last time something like this happens. For better or worse what is going on here is pretty normal. If you dont like it and want it to change thats one thing but its going to happen anyway most likely.
  • Simple solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smooth wombat (796938) on Friday April 06, 2007 @11:47AM (#18634989) Homepage Journal
    Put all the speeches on YouTube and let the public access them. That way the playing field is level.

    After all, it would be a horrible thing if someone in Japan wasn't doing the same thing as everyone else. How shameful!
    • by peragrin (659227)
      that's my thought. Politcal speeches can only be aired on one channel. Yet not add youtube to the list. personally though i just wish the USA would only air politcal speeches on just one channel. that way i can avoid them easier.
    • Re:Simple solution (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fwr (69372) on Friday April 06, 2007 @11:57AM (#18635133)
      Each country has their own laws. This may come as a shock to some, but the US can't/shouldn't enforce our laws on other countries. Whether we have the right or duty to "free" other countries under dictatorial rule is another discussion that I won't comment on here. However, when the people of a country vote to have particular rules with regard to advertising or campaign contributions it's not our place to say whether they are right or wrong. Some would even argue that it would be better for the US to have publicly funded election campaigns and ban private contributions, and have equal time on the government licensed broadcast channels. However, there are laws that have go through review all the way to the SCOTUS that say otherwise. Who's to say that the US' laws trump Japan's laws, or which is "better?" I'd say the people in those two countries, and no one else.
      • Re:Simple solution (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Ironsides (739422) on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:00PM (#18635171) Homepage Journal
        So should Japan be able to enforce Japanese laws on a country operating out of the US then? Because that is what this is all about.
        • by qwijibo (101731)
          Asking for cooperation from a US company to address a specific issue with specific content seems reasonable. YouTube doesn't have to cooperate, but I doubt anyone wants to have to block YouTube on all of the network connections coming into Japan to address this issue. That's what the end of TFA says happened in Thailand and I doubt many people want to see the same thing in Japan:
          "This week Thailand's military-installed government banned YouTube entirely after it failed to block a video considered insultin
          • Re:Simple solution (Score:5, Informative)

            by Ironsides (739422) on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:33PM (#18635647) Homepage Journal
            Asking a company delivering content to Japan to be compliant with Japanese laws is not unreasonable.

            On the other hand, it is possible that they are not violating Japanese law. As has been already said, the internet is not a broadcast (radio) medium. Also, looking at Japan's constitution:

            Article 21:
            Freedom of assembly and association as well as speech, press and all other forms of expression are guaranteed. 2) No censorship shall be maintained, nor shall the secrecy of any means of communication be violated.

            http://www.solon.org/Constitutions/Japan/English/e nglish-Constitution.html#CHAPTER_IX [solon.org]
            • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris@NOSPam.beau.org> on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:52PM (#18635913)
              > Also, looking at Japan's constitution:

              Yea, it says that. But I don't see that piece of paper kicking the ass of politicians who wipe their asses on it. Here in the US we had the fabled 1st Amendment that also made certain promises in that regard but I didn't see it, or the enraged ghosts of the signers, kicking John McCain in the nuts when he ripped it out of our Constituition. Although on a slightly hopeful note it appears the American people (at least the Republicans) appear to be denying McCain a run at the Presidency in repayment for his sins.

              In the end paper cannot protect us, only WE can protect us. The paper only represents a contract amongst us as to what we are supposed to put up with before we start shooting the bastards. If we don't uphold our end of that bargain we lose representitive government and get what we have now in most western countries, rule by an elite nobility unbound by any rule of law.

              If anyone is still in doubt as to the wisdom of "Campaign Finance Reform" or "Government financing of campaigns" look well upon Japan and see the end product of your logic at it's conclusion. For certain definitions ofthe word it is "Fair" but it is not Free by any definition. There is a wider lesson here regarding the relationship between "Fair" and "Free."
        • by zappepcs (820751)
          Its not about two countries disagreeing on what laws take precedence. It is about the world's governments finding out that pandora's box is wide open. Information is free, and wants more freedom. When there were only TV and radio stations and newspapers, it was fair to regulate access to them to ensure electoral fair play. Well, say hello to the Internet! It is all three of those mediums wrapped in one nice simple package. The rules need to change when the game changes, and the game has definitely changed
        • by fwr (69372)
          If the company is doing business in Japan, then yes. I don't care where they are "operating out of" as in where their servers are located. They are doing business in Japan. Just like there may be countries where it is legal for some other activity (let's pick something reprehensible that hopefully we can all agree is "bad" like child pornography) that doesn't mean it is wrong or illegal for the US to try and stop that type of material from coming into the US, either by requesting the company hosting in t
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by FuzzyDaddy (584528)
        I agree with you on this one. Even in this country, laws regulating political speech are rife with unintended consequence, and we're still trying to figure out the correct balance between freedom of expression and keeping elections fair and lawful.

        When your talking about a country with as radically different a history and culture as Japan (it's not Canada, folks), then very few of us in the US (or Europe) have the slightest clue how or why they have the regulations they do, and what the consequences of ch

        • Here in Europe that kind of regulation is fairly common with regards to political advertising. In my own country there is a specific law against broadcasting advertising for any political party.

          Norway is a real multi-party democracy. Politics is a grass roots affair here, and printed media is central to the debate. We view the issue of TV-advertising as a threat to democratic discourse - in that the big two/three parties have far more funds than the rest. The only TV debates that matter are the one's bro

      • Re:Simple solution (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JanneM (7445) on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:09PM (#18635333) Homepage
        Each country has their own laws. This may come as a shock to some, but the US can't/shouldn't enforce our laws on other countries.

        But the US isn't, in this case. Instead, it's the Japanese legal authorities that want to impose Japanese law on foreign soil. The turnaround equivalent could for instance the restrictions for paid political speech in the US, which does not stop any foreign blogger or other media talking about the US election, endorsing one candidate over another (without disclosing what agenda they really do and who is paying and so on). Or laws in some countries like Sweden that forbid identifying a crime suspect by name and image before they've actually convicted, but which of course doesn't stop newspapers publishing that info on websites in neighboring countries

        I live in Japan and there's a good deal of rules and other things that do make sense here, but the election-related framework is frankly one that no longer does, if it really ever did (candidates are for instance not allowed to actually change the content on their websites once campaigning is started). One way to solve this could be to distinguish push and pull media. Keep restrictions in place for push media like radio, television, magazine ads and so on, media for which it was intended. But allow free use of pull media like websites or Youtube - there the user is actively searching out the info, not getting it stuffed down their throat. The playing field is also more even due to the low cost of setting up and maintaining such a prescence.

        • by Sancho (17056)
          candidates are for instance not allowed to actually change the content on their websites once campaigning is started

          That sounds like an easy* way to prevent that last-minute mudslinging. Japanese elections may be overly restrictive, but are they as corrupt and nasty as American ones have become?

          * Easy is not always good or better.
        • by fwr (69372)
          But the US isn't, in this case. Instead, it's the Japanese legal authorities that want to impose Japanese law on foreign soil.

          Wrong. Japan is attempting to enforce their laws on their soil. If Youtube had some system to determine where the request was coming from geographically and could block all request from Japanese territory then I doubt Japan would be concern at all what Youtube does on other countries soil. In fact, this is probably the real solution that Youtube needs to devise, a system where
        • never before has a forum existed where anyone can say what they feel and have potentially everyone hear it. it is the ultimate soap box. the paradigm has shifted and I expect to see the politicians begin to address this more forcefully as time goes forward. the younger candidates get it (its NOT a series of tubes to them) and will make use of it, but I am not going to be surprised to see the older politicos condemn this new "heresy" and attempt to squelch it or regulate it to their liking. but this is t
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by UbuntuDupe (970646) *
        This may come as a shock to some, but the US can't/shouldn't enforce our laws on other countries.

        Sure, but in this case "enforcing our laws in other countries" means "letting people in Japan see people speaking freely on American servers". The US isn't forcing Japan to permit people to say this stuff in Japan. If Japan wants to force everyone in Japan onto a state-run ISP that filters content (like is done in most of the Middle East and in repressive regimes), hey, that's between them and their God (or A
        • by fwr (69372)
          You are missing the point. I'm not actually even talking about the US government in this discussion, rather people in the US who seem to feel that our laws (yes, I'm from the US) somehow trump laws in other countries. They do not. This is not the US forcing or not forcing Japan to permit people to say stuff in Japan. It's about allowing the Japanese their sovereign right to do what they want in their country, as in their case determined by their own people. Their laws apparently say that political spee
      • Re:Simple solution (Score:5, Interesting)

        by aztektum (170569) on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:27PM (#18635585)
        They just provide a forum. If you don't like what's on, sorry, so sad. Cut Internet access to your people if you're not able to adjust to the world.

        Let's put it this way. If this was an RIAA article we'd be saying "The MAFIAA needs to adapt to the modern world!" It's not like anyone said the Japanese can't continue eating sushi, work insane hours and make Playstations. What if you're a Japanese tourist in another country? I doubt they're going to hook up a broadcast just so you can see the hamsters run in their wheel.

        This isn't exactly a law that has real social benefit. Not like punishment for a crime. This is more closely related to moderating access to information. Speaking as a native of the planet Earth who thinks allowing law to create hardline distinctions between cultures and wishes we could all just "Get along." it's a stupid law at that.
        • by mike2R (721965)
          That's a little arrogant; the US has a free for all in terms of the amount of campaigning candidates can do, limited only by candidates funding. Therefore you say the whole world should follow suit. This despite the fact that this policy results in your politicians whoring themselves for corporate funding.

          Other countries really don't have this problem to the extent you see it in the US, so maybe you shouldn't dismiss it so quickly - although I tend to agree that trying to regulate foreign internet serve
        • by fwr (69372)
          Unfortunately we can't all just "get along." There are some wicked bad people out there. To reuse my example that I hope everyone should agree on, should we have to have laws against pedophilia? Well, if we could all just "get along" then then answer would be no, we shouldn't have to have those types of laws. However, that is not reality. Reality is that there are people out there to which these laws apply. Now as you move your way from the laws that everyone can agree with, such as murder, etc, into
      • by Kjella (173770)
        The question is more like if anyone should enforce foreign law. The general answer is no. On the other hand, it gets rather hard to have local law when it comes ot digital (or digitalizable) content when your people has instant access to material from any other jurisdiction. You can try to halt them at the border but digital borders leak like an open faucet and you typically end up blocking all the content or none at all. Imagine if they shut down all international content because it's operating under anoth
        • by fwr (69372)
          If you change that around slightly and instead of asking if anyone should enforce foreign law to should anyone abide by foreign law then I think the answer is yes. Youtube should abide by foreign law when doing business in those foreign countries. It's not a question of where the servers are located. This is not a tax question as to whether you pay sales tax if you happen to live in New York and the company you purchase from resides in California with no office in New York. The company is still doing bu
      • by gad_zuki! (70830)
        What US law? This is data streaming from a server in the form of video. Your anti-US tirade is tiresome.

        The main issue is the control of information. When governments enact 'fair' laws, especially for elections, it always turns out bad. Look how Ralph Nader couldnt debate on television a few years ago because of the system of gatekeepers in the government and the media.

        Considering youtube is a free upload and hosting service, this is decidedly anti-free speech which is very much a universal human issue, n
    • Put all the speeches on YouTube and let the public access them. That way the playing field is level.

      That probably is the best solution, but I also understand the reasoning behind limiting the sources for political speech. Picture this, 8 hours before the election someone floods YouTube and other channels with a faked video showing the current runner up talking about how he is secretly a pedophile and has molested children. As a result he loses the election and the perpetrator may or may not ever be found.

      By restricting access to a single channel there is the potential that whomever controls that channe

      • Re:Simple solution (Score:4, Interesting)

        by mangu (126918) on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:24PM (#18635555)
        8 hours before the election someone floods YouTube and other channels with a faked video showing the current runner up talking about how he is secretly a pedophile and has molested children


        If the citizens base their decisions on such flimsy evidence, then they deserve whatever politicians they elect. Anyone who has access to YouTube should know exactly how easy it is to fake a video.


        By restricting access to a single channel there is the potential that whomever controls that channel will abuse it, but at the same time it prevents the scenario I described above.


        How so? Please explain what's the difference between YouTube and some "official political channel" regarding fake videos? Do you mean that if there existed a single political channel then no damaging evidence against any politician would be accepted, no matter how authentic? Or do you believe the operators of that political channel would have the resources to verify the authenticity of all the material supplied to them?


        Having a free press means that at some times some lies may be published. Also some people will be pissed-off about what's published. But in the end I see no other alternative to make sure the whole political system will remain more or less democratic. To paraphrase Churchill, a free press is the worst possible information system, with the exception of all other systems.

    • Even before McCain-Feingold, which involves an unprecidented amount of speech restriction for the US in the political context (it has to be the only US law that makes it illegal to criticize the government during an election!), the US had this lovely little chestnut called the Fairness Doctrine, an FTC policy which essentially micromanaged the content of television and radio broadcasts when they were on issues of public importance during an election. That misbegotten regulation has since been slagged, but
    • Wouldn't you have to rotate the links around so that each candidate gets "fair exposure"? I thought we had laws like that in the USA also, so that one candidate couldn't use political influence to get all the TV commercial airtime, etc.
  • "You may recall YouTube being in trouble with more than few countries in the past"

    Yup. Still blocked in Thailand [slashdot.org].

    I don't know what the fuss is about YouTube is though. Sites which allow users to post content are going to be hosting objectionable content. Governments have the choice of blocking a particular url or making a point and blocking the whole site.
  • Ensuring fairness (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Friday April 06, 2007 @11:55AM (#18635093)
    A stupid site like Youtube can complement any current mechanism for "ensuring fairness" that has been set up by the city of Tokyo. How can you be more fair than Youtube? Does one of the candidates lack an Internet connection? Are some of them ugly? Let all the candidates upload their stupid videos to Youtube and maybe Tokyo can sell ad space on the skin of the monsters that invade the city on a regular basis, instead of wasting that space on political ads.
    Plus, just because someone has a funny Youtube video doesn't mean you'll vote to put him in charge of your city. Tokyo elections aren't like American Idol ...right?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jeff DeMaagd (2015)
      I think the problem is that the upstart candidate ruffled a few feathers by doing something that the others didn't think about doing.
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      How can you be more fair than Youtube? Does one of the candidates lack an Internet connection? Are some of them ugly? Let all the candidates upload their stupid videos to Youtube...

            And pretty soon political candidates will determine that the real secret to political success is not their position on Education, Crime, Taxes and Foreign Policy, but rather how long their farts can stay on fire and how many live goldfish they can swallow...
  • by LaughingCoder (914424) on Friday April 06, 2007 @11:56AM (#18635121)
    ... from well-off candidates being able to distribute printed fliers as often and as broadly as their finances allow, whereas lesser-healed candidates can't do the same? At least with YouTube, people have to take the initiative to go find the video. Conversely, fliers simply appear at your doorstep or are shoved into your hands at the mall. In my mind this is a far more "unfair" practice.
    • In Japan, you can't. (Score:3, Informative)

      by achurch (201270)

      The Japanese election laws are actually very strict about this kind of thing. I haven't gone through all the details, but for example, Article 142 of the Public Election Law (Japanese link) [e-gov.go.jp] limits candidates in prefectural governor elections to 35000+X postcards, where X depends on the number of lower-house national representative in the prefecture, and no fliers at all. There are lots of other rules--applying to anyone, not just candidates--preventing things like visiting people to ask for votes and all so

      • by mangu (126918)
        Article 142 of the Public Election Law (Japanese link) [e-gov.go.jp] limits candidates in prefectural governor elections to 35000+X postcards, where X depends on the number of lower-house national representative in the prefecture, and no fliers at all.


        Ah, then it's OK, I guess. After all, it's not as if anyone could go to the nearest Office Depot and print an additional 35000 cards without notifying the election officials, right?

        • by achurch (201270)

          Ah, then it's OK, I guess. After all, it's not as if anyone could go to the nearest Office Depot and print an additional 35000 cards without notifying the election officials, right?

          I suppose they could, if they wanted to get banned from holding office for five years [fukushima-minpo.co.jp] (Japanese link again, sorry), like the previous governor of Fukushima prefecture. Granted, in his case it bribes that occurred while in office rather than election improprieties, but the same penalty applies--I just can't recall a specific r

  • "Fair"? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by popo (107611) on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:01PM (#18635191) Homepage
    I'm not sure "fair" is the right word. I think most free-thinking individuals would agree that equal access to media is "fair". And any controls and limitations placed on speech are inherently and ultimately "unfair" and abusable.

    • Then what about the situation suggested by this poster [slashdot.org], where one candidate makes use of massive funds to effectively smother another? I'd hardly call that "fair".

      The Japanese law is arguably conservative, but its you-may-do-nothing-but-this approach does (or at least did, pre-Internet) work well to preserve a level playing field, or at least punish those who broke the rules. Whether the voters are making good use of that level playing field is a completely separate issue I won't delve into here . . .

  • This doesn't seem all that different to me than many of the political free-speech-limiting laws that we have in the US and elsewhere -- campaign finance laws, equal access, and all that jazz. Political speech on other broadcast mediums gets some close scrutiny; it makes sense that we would see the same thing happening on the internet.

    Of course, I think it would be an improvement to allow unimpeded free speech on the internet, television, radio, print, and everything else -- but you can't say that these re

    • by geekoid (135745)
      except on the internet I have to go LOOKING for it. It is not broadcast to me, nor does it interupt my browsing, nor is it limited by airwaves.

      Now, Canadates using methods to push there message to me should be limited.

  • by mhall119 (1035984) on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:02PM (#18635225) Homepage Journal

    Is it fair that some government officials are being viewed more on YouTube than others or is it simply leveling the playing field for anyone with a message since it costs very little to put a video on YouTube?.

    YouTube is not a broadcaster, it doesn't "air" anything. It is a source of goods for consumption. I don't like the idea of governments forcing me to "consume" candidates equally. If I want to watch more videos of one candidate over another, that should be my right.

    Broadcast is a content limited resource, which is why those resources are required to be shared evenly among candidates, the internet isn't limited in that way, so forced rationing doesn't make sense. I can't choose what is broadcast on NBC, but I can choose what I watch on YouTube, that's the difference between the two.
    • In fairness, the law simply isn't ready for YouTube. Given the conservative approach taken with respect to other media (placing strict limits on basically all of a candidate's activities; see this comment [slashdot.org], for example), I can't really blame the government for this reaction, as ineffective as it may be. The real test will come when they review the law and decide how to deal with sites like YouTube.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by macro187 (1079859)

      Broadcast is a content limited resource, which is why those resources are required to be shared evenly among candidates, the internet isn't limited in that way, so forced rationing doesn't make sense. I can't choose what is broadcast on NBC, but I can choose what I watch on YouTube, that's the difference between the two.
      Your problem is you're being very rational and making complete sense... Japan has a habit of doing neither.

      (just try living here...)
  • by HaeMaker (221642) on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:03PM (#18635245) Homepage
    It seems to me that the law in Japan did not contemplate online video. They should probably update the law since I believe if a transcript of the speech were posted, it would not be in violation.

    The law is a good one, in general, it prevents networks sympathetic to a particular candidate to run their speeches 24/7 and deny access to all others. We have similar laws in the US, which prevents Senator Thompson's "Law and Order" episodes from airing air while he is running for President. It also means Al Franken can not continue his radio show while he runs for Senate.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by roystgnr (4015)
      The law is a good one, in general, it prevents networks sympathetic to a particular candidate to run their speeches 24/7 and deny access to all others. We have similar laws in the US

      Exactly - in the US, networks have to be sympathetic to a particular *two* candidates, and are only allowed to have "third party" candidates arrested at presidential debates.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stephanruby (542433)
      "We have similar laws in the US, which prevents Senator Thompson's "Law and Order" episodes from airing air while he is running for President. It also means Al Franken can not continue his radio show while he runs for Senate."

      The problem with this law is that if you ask an entertainer to give up his day job (to avoid influencing his campaign), you should also ask incumbents running for office to do the same. Being an incumbent does give you a significant advantage in elections. And if you expect an actor
  • Uh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mdm-adph (1030332) <mdmadphNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:04PM (#18635255) Homepage
    ...the Japanese do realize that YouTube isn't the entire Internet, right? What's stopping this video from popping up at other places?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by UbuntuDupe (970646) *
      ...the Japanese do realize that YouTube isn't the entire Internet, right?

      Exactly. They need to be in negotiations with AOL, not YouTube.
  • by Bieeanda (961632)
    Over here in Ontario, we have a similar system to presumably support fairness: several days before the election, all candidate signage comes down, all of the related commercials stop airing, and the candidates' phone drones stop calling. Campaign websites (if any) stay up, but there's a difference there-- unless you've been infected with a politically savvy trojan, you're not likely to be randomly exposed to a candidate's website or Youtube archives of their commercials.

    The only issue that I could see is i

    • Over here in Ontario...several days before the election, all candidate signage comes down, all of the related commercials stop airing, and the candidates' phone drones stop calling.

       
      I wouldn't mind if we adopted that part of your laws myself; here the signage stays up (sometimes) for months after an election (there's one doofus where I work who's STILL driving around with a kerry/edwards bumper sticker on his car!)
  • by ZorbaTHut (126196) on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:15PM (#18635401) Homepage
    The only way Youtube can possibly satisfy every set of laws is by turning it into a country-specific site, and removing videos from specific country sites instead of from the site as a whole. I suspect they'll end up doing this eventually, once they have every country yelling at them for a different contradictory subset of videos.
  • This is what they're really afraid of [youtube.com]. It would be very funny if he got elected, especially given how 2ch has done stuff like almost getting Masashi Tashiro as Time's 2001 person of the year. [itmedia.co.jp]

    He does sound really awesome when you pair him with music from Dragonball Z! [youtube.com]
  • by geekoid (135745) <(dadinportland) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:18PM (#18635459) Homepage Journal
    any canadate can upload their message.
    Just because you want to say something, does not mean people have to listen.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:20PM (#18635473) Homepage Journal
    Everyone knows that no candidate without sufficient money or media backing can make it to any major radio station or tv channel.

    things like youtube are needed for leveling the playing field for ANY AND ALL citizens for the first time in WORLD HISTORY.

    it was just a fallacious statement that "everyone can run for elections" before. in any country that democratic elections took place, there has been no cases that normal citizens with little income were able to run for important positions and get elected.

    this was a pretty little neat trick that ensured the circles who had the money would be the ones ruling the country, and under the pretense of democracy - hey everyone can run for elections. you just wont be able to get heard if you dont have the cash.

    internet, with rising connectivity of people and exposure it provides, is being an annoyance for such politician circles, and the media outlets and cartels that backed whichever candidate that would play on their side in the elections and make them get elected.

    hence the shithead attack on network neutrality by at&t and their cronies, hence banning of youtube in such countries on political reasons, hence tokyo city's annoyance.
  • Japanese election law limits the broadcasting of speeches, which are aired only on public broadcaster NHK.

    This is the central issue. It seems to me that they want to avoid allowing demagogues to promote themselves by allowing their speeches to be engrained in voters' minds through repetition. Limiting reproduction of election-related speeches is one way to accomplish that.

    I personally am not sure it's a wise choice, but I don't think it's unfair, and I don't think free speech necessarily applies to el

  • It's a never-ending source of wonder and despair to watch as pols and other ruling-classers struggle to adjust to 21st Century basic reality. The Tokyo government's stand is like saying no political speeches should be printed because somebody might read one and not the rest. YouTube, unlike broadcast, is a medium of choice: you actively seek what you want to see/hear instead of soaking up what the providers decide you should see. The reason for fairness provisions in broadcasting is that there's the option
  • by Dunbal (464142) on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:29PM (#18635607)
    YouTube is, basically, the voice of the people. In and of itself, YouTube has no political agenda. It carries video without discrimination. They themselves do not post anything. I think it's interesting to watch how many corporations and governments have "demanded" things, blocked, banned, and legally threatened YouTube. The desire to shut people up when you are criticized or poked fun at is overwhelming. But when will they realize that the internet cannot be silenced? YouTube merely makes sharing such video incredibly easy. However the sentiment (and the sharing) would happen even if it wasn't for this service.
  • It's really going to be interesting in '08. Everyone and their dog are going to be producing political videos. If you think the Swift Boat twinks were bad, wait until you see what they come up with on the internet. A place they can dispense with all pretense of decorum and spew whatever sewage floats to the surface of the demented minds that will say or do anything to win.

    This opens up whole new vistas in trash politics.

    Of course, it also opens up the process to those lacking the ability to raise 25

  • by panda (10044) on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:35PM (#18635669) Homepage Journal
    If the subtitles in this version of his speech [youtube.com] are correct, then what are they worried about? The majority won't vote for him, and the minority won't get him elected.

    If he really wants to destroy the government, then maybe they should do what they always do with violent rebels...

    Anyway, I don't really understand Japanese, so I can't be sure of the subtitles.
  • I'll bite (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:39PM (#18635735)
    I live in Tokyo, and know Koichi Toyama, the candidate in question, so I'll bite...

    First and foremost, sure, it's illegal by Japanese law. But where does YouTube reside again? There has been little thought regarding the internet and "new media" when in comes to elections and politics in Japan. So little, that it's becoming absurd.

    The original election laws were put in place to put an economical cap on elections, and thus leveling the field. Each candidate for the Tokyo metropolitan mayor election needs to pay 3 million yen up front. If they get a certain percentage of votes, the money is returned. (The exact numbers escape me at the moment, but I think it was something along the lines of 10 to 15%.) If they don't, they are "extremist fringes" which shouldn't have ran in the first place. Whether you agree with this concept or not is up to you, but it does have it's advantages. Idiots can still run for office, but they'll waste the money. To be honest, Koichi Toyama fits into the "idiot" profile, but he knew well that the money spent would gather attention, for a fraction of the price of a TV commercial aired in Tokyo. I say he got a bargain. (In his speach, he explicitly states that "If I get elected, the majority will shit their pants. If I get elected, _I_ will shit my pants.")

    At least for the Tokyo elections, election posters can only be posted on official boards designated by the election committee. And those posters are paid for through tax dollars (well, yen...). So all candidates get the same exposure, and same number of posters. There is a limit to the number of campaign cars with loud speakers that can roam the streets. There are numerous limits, and I think some of these limits could be imported back to the U.S. for a genuinely level field when it comes to elections. (I'm an ex-pat, by the way.)

    That said, the "limit" is so extreme, that candidates are not allowed to pass out flyers of any kind. They are not allowed to post to public areas (including the internet) addressing their political agenda. They cannot mail/e-mail anyone. The best they can do is call their constituents, but even then, they're not allowed to discuss what their political agenda is.

    So, how do you determine which candidate to vote for? Well... appearance. Name. Hopefully you heard their speach infront of some train station. Or watched TV. (Contrary to the summary, NHK is not the only broadcaster that broadcasts these speaches. As long as each candidate gets a chance, with the same length and un-edited video, anyone broadcaster can broadcast it.)

    Up until now, you really couldn't tell what the candidate was REALLY thinking. Just recently, a candidate from Miyazaki had an idea though. During the election race, homepages cannot be updated. So, he put up his political agenda BEFORE the race started, and left it up. And now, FINALLY, from this election, candidates are allowed to hand out flyers. Again, these flyers are paid for through tax money. Level field.

    However, this still doesn't address the fact that YouTube and other CGM-ish media is the exact kind of media that will level the playing grounds in a way that doesn't require economic powers, which the "limits" were placed in for in the first place.

    I say let YouTube rule, do no evil, and let this serve as a kick in the ass to the Japanese government as a reminder that this is the 21st century, and getting the "message" out in one way or another is a good thing.

    That said, I recently commented on mixi (a Japanese SNS) that all they need to do to get the videos down is to have NHK issue a DMCA take down notice. NHK owns the copyrights. They can issue a DMCA take down notice. (However much you despise that.) And, as far as I can tell, YouTube will comply.

    I have a hunch that NHK already knows this, and has forfeited copyrights, or else is playing dumb on purpose. Likewise, the election committee probably knows damn well too. Let's see if this will change the laws any time soon. I for one hope it does.
    • by Kopretinka (97408)

      Will the broadcasters show any videos provided by the candidates (within their time limits), or just videos made in their studios for tax yens? Because if you allow any video provided by the candidate (as is the case if you allow YouTube), the candidate with more money will have nicer videos, and that's, I believe, against the spirit of the system there.

      My theory is also supported by your statement that the flyers are funded by tax yens.

      So the problem with YouTube may be that it allows money to play a r

  • Maybe the current Mayor of Tokyo, Ishihara is afraid some of his racist rantings will be seen outside Japan.

    Anyway, I would gladly exchange being unable to see Japanese political speeches online if they would stop using those bloody election sound trucks [youtube.com].

    • If you are wondering what they are yelling from the trucks it's basically limited to "This is Hiromi Yoshida, We hope we can count on you in the upcoming election, Thank you very much."

      That's just a worker doing the actual announcement, the politician himself is probably just sitting in the van waving his white-gloved hand. The white glove is supposed to symbolize honesty but Mr. Yoshida has had his own scandals [findarticles.com].
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ..is the number one reason we bother to have free speech. (In America, at least.) Any time you restrict political speech, you undermine the entire "right." Without free political speech, none of it can be defended.
  • Instead of trying to block YouTube for providing a very low barrier to entry, maybe someone should set up a site like http://expertvoter.org/ [expertvoter.org] to show just how easy it is for a candidate to put out a message and have it be considered on equal footing as others.

    If it is so easy, then shouldn't everyone be able to take part?
  • Where does it end? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cashman73 (855518) on Friday April 06, 2007 @12:55PM (#18635949) Journal
    Seriously! The next thing, you know, we'll have certain American Presidential candidates [hillaryclinton.com] asking Google to remove various unfavorable videos about them [youtube.com] from Youtube.

    Of course, if Google is smart, they'll see this as an opportunity to seriously change the mechanics of elections,... candidates with less money can create a campaign video and upload it to Youtube, which still stands a decent chance of being viewed by a lot of people; versus the candidates with big bucks that can afford to spend ungodly amounts of money be extorted on advertisements on network television. The good news, too, is that Youtube's "viewership" is increasing, quite substantially, especially among the younger crowds. Network television's viewership is really not doing anything; either remaining stagnant, or possibly decreasing, due to all the crap that the network executives idiots keep broadcasting these days.

    If there ever was a time when Google's, "Don't be evil," policy applied, I'd say this is it,. . .

  • Slashdotter 1: That sucks. They need to understand freedom of speech.
    Slashdotter 2: YOU RACIST!!11! HOW DARE YOU IMPOSE YOUR LAWS ON ANOTHER COUNTRY!!@@ HISS! SPIT!
    Slashdotter 1: How am I doing that by just disagreeing with the decision?
    Slashdotter 2: YOU CLAIM TO BE EXPERT ON EXPERT ON INTERNATIONAL ISSUES. HA!
    Slashdotter 1: Huh? Where did I say that?
    Slashdotter 2: RACIST!@ BIGGOT! PEOPLE HAVE THEIR OWN CULTURES. AARRGH! GROWL!
    Slashdotter 1: OK, but do I have to carte blanche agree with every aspect of the
  • This is the second time I've seen a Japanese person miserably fail to give the bird in the correct way. I was telling my wife, who is Japanese, that when you give the bird, you look at the target in the eyes and put the bird in his face. You don't surreptitiously wave it around behind your podium. Argh, so many cultural gaps we need to bridge, so little time.
  • At some point someone, somewhere will try to pass a law like this: If a politician's election web site gets more hits than his/her opponents, the internets will have to automatically reroute traffic to the sites of the other candidates until the levels are equalized.

    So you'd click on Hillary's link and get, like, Obama. Or Dave Barry.

    Actually, that doesn't sound so bad.
  • If the Japanese candidate violates Japanese election laws, disqualify the candidate. Duh.
  • by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Friday April 06, 2007 @03:49PM (#18638711)
    Politics is all about the machine, or party if you prefer. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which is neither, has ruled Japan since 1955, except for one brief interregnum in 1993. Nothing will be tolerated that threatens the established rule of the oligarchy. The election laws are there to insure LDP control. YouTube threatens that in Japan. It's probably not much of a threat, but it's easier to stomp on a little bug than Mothra.
  • by xylix (447915) on Saturday April 07, 2007 @01:16AM (#18643631)
    I have lived in Japan for the past decade. I think it is great that youtube and any other internet services are challanging the way things are done in Japan. For egalitarian reasons (?) the law says speeches are only broadcast on NHK - but in reality the way most of us hear about the politicians is from the damn sound trucks that set up outside of train stations and drive around neighborhoods. They have these vans outfitted with (VERY LOUD) loud speakers on the top of them, and often a place for an entourage to stand on the roof. There is often some woman with a bright, chirpy voice talking about the politician incessantly while he (or she) waves at everyone while wearing white gloves. (To show how 'pure' they are or some such shit.) I absolutely loath these people and this system. I have talked to many Japanese about them and everyone agrees they are annoying, but kind of shrug their shoulders and say 'what can you do'. That is the way things are done. These vans are often parked outside of big train stations but they also drive around neighborhoods (as one is doing right now while I am writing this) blaring their spin about the candidate over a wide swatch of a residential area. I would love it if youtube and Japanese web sites could change the way we get our information about candidates to lessen the noise polition and aggravation that are the norm today.

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