ISP Must Reveal Person Who Defamed VTuber
OSAKA — On August 31, the Osaka District Court ordered an internet service provider to release information about a person who defamed a YouTuber virtual persona.
Presiding Judge Masatoshi Ishimaru said a woman who posts videos on the internet as a virtual YouTuber “acts by wearing an avatar image as if it were a costume”.
Therefore, the defamatory statements made against her computer-generated alter ego also defamed the woman, Ishimaru concluded.
The woman posts videos as a virtual YouTuber, or VTuber, but keeps her real name and face hidden from the public. His Twitter account is popular, with over a million followers.
According to the ruling, an anonymous person posted derogatory messages in May 2021 on a free online forum created to talk about the woman. These messages included: “We can’t help her because she is stupid” and “She is mentally immature because she has no mother”.
The woman took legal action against an internet service provider, which claimed the posts had damaged her reputation and demanded that the provider disclose the identity of the person who posted the messages.
The internet service provider argued that the messages “may target an avatar but not the woman”.
The court said the avatar’s language and behavior stemmed from the woman’s uniqueness and reflected her experiences.
The woman conducted an act of expression through the avatar, the court heard.
“Even if the insult was directed at an avatar on the surface, it can be recognized that it was directed at a person who works as an avatar, so it was the woman who was defamed,” the court said.
The Tokyo District Court issued a similar decision in March this year in a defamation case involving a virtual YouTuber.