Published on December 18th, 2022
VTubers became a thing on YouTube in the mid-2010s and have become pretty popular in the last 2-3 years as the English-speaking world has also joined in the fun.
Just like any popular internet celebrity, Vtubers also receive some hateful comments on social media as people think that Vtubers are fictional characters and insulting them won’t land them in trouble with the authorities, but according to a recent court ruling, Vtubers have the same rights as human beings, and threatening a Vtuber could land you in Jail.
VTubers (Virtual Youtubers) stream as a 3D or 2D avatar character as they do not want to show their identity. According to a survey conducted this year, VTubers have become so popular that one in every four teenage boys watches VTubers regularly. And because of this popularity, Vtubers are faced with criticism and hate comments too. Japan has introduced a new law which might reveal the identities of these VTubers.
Can death threats to Vtubers be directed at the people who voice them? The question was answered on Dec 14th, when Tokyo’s District Court ordered Twitter to disclose the information of a person who was threatening a Vtuber. The ruling was handed down in a trial in which a Vtuber was threatened on Twitter.
How did this issue start?
It all started in November of 2021 when a woman, who is acting as a VTuber and has more than one million subscribers on YouTube and more than one million followers on Twitter, complained about a comment made on her tweet, which read as:
I’m going to **** you next month?Comment on the VTuber’s Tweet
Of course, all of this might be read in a variety of ways, such as “I’ll murder you in a month” or “I’ll injure you in a month.” The complainant then claimed that the knife emoji posed a “threat to the integrity of the genuine person behind VTuber.”
I have suffered great emotional stress and this threat made me so scared that I am now scared to even go outside my house!The woman on the threats she received as a VTuber
The response of the Japanese Government against this
Kuroki, a Judge at the Tokyo District Court, took the woman’s complaint into account and labelled this comment as a real-life threat to the woman. He said:
The comment can be said to be a notice of harm to the life or body of the subjectJudge Kuroki
Twitter, on the other hand, made a counter-argument to this statement of Kuroki as:
This is a post directed to VTubers, not directed to the plaintiff as a real person or a real human beingTwitter counter-argument
But this argument was not entertained by the Tokyo Court as they were unwilling to take a risk by ignoring this issue. So, the court issued an order:
Postings directed at the characters constitute defamation of the VTubers themselvesCourt’s Order
Legal Action against people who give threats to VTubers
According to Japanese law, “A person who intimidates another through a threat to another’s life, body, freedom, reputation or property shall be punished by imprisonment with work for not more than 2 years or a fine of not more than 300,000 yen.”
Two rival companies in this industry, COVER CORP. (which manages VTuber software and applications) and ANYCOLOR INC. (Which supports a VTuber organization), gave a collective response on this issue in support of the harassed women and announced that they are willing to take “legal action against slander and death threats against their affiliated VTubers“.
This collaboration between these two companies is not only good for the protection of the rights of VTubers but also for a new positive relationship between the two rivals. This collaboration might also be a good step for the future of the VTuber industry and the upcoming future VTubers.
Source: Bengoshi News