Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace – do you want to know what happens at the end? (pic: Mages)
Spoilers are a serious business in Japan, where one fan who uploaded the ending of a visual novel got a five-year suspended sentence.
Remember that guy in Japan who got arrested for spoiling the ending of a Steins;Gate visual novel? Well, they didn’t let him off with a slap on the wrist.
Although publishers in the West don’t generally care about spoilers, as long as the game is already out, the situation is very different in Japan.
Back in May, 52-year-old Shinobu Yoshida was arrested for breaking copyright laws, after he uploaded a number of gameplay and anime clips, while telling police, ‘I knew it was illegal as I was doing it.’
He’s likely ruing such honesty now, as while you might have imagined he’d be left off with a warning that’s not what happened at all. He’s been found guilty and will now be forced to serve a two-year jail sentence and a five-year suspended sentence.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, he’s also been fined ¥1 million, which works out at just less than £5,500.
This is the first time anyone in Japan has ever been found guilty of such a crime, if you’re wondering why you haven’t heard of such incidents before, but it does suggest that more such examples are inevitable.
The game in question is what is known in the West as Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace, which was released here in 2019 but dates back all the way to 2011 in Japan – which you really would’ve thought was old enough that spoilers don’t matter anymore.
The case was pushed by the Content Overseas Distribution Agency (CODA), who were positively gleeful at the verdict.
‘CODA views this ruling as a major achievement in preventing further damage caused by the posting of gameplay videos that violate the guidelines, which have been viewed as a problem in recent years,’ reads a statement.
‘Similarly with anime’s ‘fast content,’ it is never acceptable to use copyrighted works created by creators who have spent time, effort, and money without permission in order to unfairly obtain advertising revenue.’
Fast content is a popular style of video in Japan, that summarises the plot of games and anime; those that specialise in endings and spoilers are called netabare.
The fact that this happens enough for it to have its own name suggests there’s a lot of Japanese content creators who should probably be looking over their shoulder right about now.
‘Posting content that contains spoilers exposes the important core of a work with a narrative nature, and the damage and impact on rights holders is enormous,’ insists CODA.
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