The Tokyo District Court on Thursday ordered a man and woman to pay 500 million yen ($3.6 million) in damages to 13 major film production companies for uploading minutes-long, edited versions of their films known as "fast movies" on YouTube without permission.
The court awarded the plaintiffs, including Toho Co., Shochiku Co. and Toei Co., the full amount they had demanded in giving the first court decision in Japan concerning damages for unauthorized uploading of such types of edited films.
According to the ruling, the pair in their 20s edited and posted the videos from the beginning of 2020 to October that year and earned at least 7 million yen in advertising revenue, an amount far smaller than the damages approved in the ruling.
Regarding the court's decision to order the payment of a large sum of damages, lawyer for the plaintiffs Hiroyuki Nakajima told a press conference it was a "significant deterrent against future cases of copyright infringement," and added it was "meaningful" that the film companies had come together to obtain a payout of its scale.
The defendants were already convicted of violating the copyright law by the Sendai District Court in November last year. The court said the films, which are typically shortened to around 10 minutes, contained narrations about the movies' plots.
They did not contest the legality of their actions in the civil case at the Tokyo court.
According to the plaintiffs, the defendants illegally edited and uploaded 54 films, including "Shin Godzilla," the Oscar-winning drama "Departures" and the horror movie "Cold Fish," which were then viewed more than 10 million times.
The companies determined the damages by basing it on the price the viewers would have had to pay to watch the official versions of the films online and decided the monetary value was 200 yen per view. While the total amounted to around 2 billion yen in their assessment, they claimed only a portion.