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Editorial: Tokyo court ruling on 'fast movies' a chance to reflect on film culture

The Tokyo District Court has ordered a man and woman to pay a total of 500 million yen (about $3.6 million) in damages to major film companies and others for uploading edited versions of their movies online without permission.

    The harsh judicial ruling against so-called "fast movies" -- in which original films are condensed to around 10 minutes long -- comes after a separate decision which found the pair guilty of violating the Copyright Act was finalized.

    According to the Content Overseas Distribution Association, more than 2,100 fast movies had been posted online as of June 2021, with estimated damages totaling 95 billion yen (approx. $685 million).

    If fast movies become rampant, it will impede creation of new titles, dealing a serious blow to film culture.

    Observers say fast movies have spread amid a trend primarily among the younger set to value time efficiency. This is evident in their lifestyles, where they prefer to speed up the videos and films they watch.

    In a March 2021 online survey by Tokyo-based consumer research firm Cross Marketing Inc., nearly 50% of respondents in their 20s said they had watched videos at faster playback speeds.

    The volume of video content available online has drastically increased thanks to the spread of subscription-based video streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon's Prime Video.

    Many young people today constantly stay connected with their peers via social media, and are eager to watch films and dramas that are trending among their age groups within the limited time available to share their views on common topics.

    Nearly 30% of respondents in their 20s to the aforementioned survey said playing back videos at faster speeds allows them to view many titles efficiently.

    As society changes with the times, so does the speed of people's lifestyles, and this is reflected in how they appreciate films. Some people may fast-forward through the content to get a rough idea of the storyline and ending, and then take time to watch the flicks later.

    That said, always browsing films quickly would be mundane. Admiring the depths of scenes and reading between the lines allows viewers to ponder life, and this is one of the joys of watching movies.

    If motion pictures that are made with fast-forwarding culture in mind become rampant, diversity of films could be lost.

    Movies can bring us to a wide variety of different worlds, from those full of action to literary and social ones. To protect film culture, individual viewers would do well to consider the ways they enjoy films, depending on what each title has to offer them.

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