Anti-Downloading Law Goes Live in Japan: 2 Years in Prison

Japan-based Internet users who have downloaded copyright infringing files over the past two years did so without penalty. Now, however, a new law has come into effect for the downloading of illegal files which would put guilty users in jail for up to two years. An alternative to the aforementioned punishment would be a fine of up to two million yen ($25,700).

The law follows a lobbying campaign by the country's music industry, the Recording Industry Association of Japan. They suggested illegal media downloads clearly outnumber legal downloads by about a factor of 10.

Critics, however, said the effort should be concentrated towards stopping users from making infringing material available. Users who are caught illegally uploading infringing music and videos face a maximum 10 year prison sentence and a 10 million yen fine.

Sales figures place Japan as the second-largest music market in the world, after the U.S. A 2010 study found that Internet users downloaded around 4.36 billion illegally pirated music and video files. Comparatively, 440 million legal purchases were made during the same year.

"This revision will reduce the spread of copyright infringement activities on the internet," said RIAJ chairman Naoki Kitagawa, who also operates as a chief executive of Sony Music Entertainment Japan.

"Treating personal activities with criminal punishments must be done very cautiously, and the property damage caused by individual illegal downloads by private individuals is highly insignificant," the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, a group representing legal professionals, stated.

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  • Zingam
    Japanese don't buy enough porn.... ehm? Too much piracy!
  • Recording Industry Association of Japan 1 - 0 pirates.
  • freggo
    Where does that put a Japanese user of YouTube?
    I mean there is plenty of questionable material there. Is watching an unauthorized music video 'downloading' ?
    Is uploading to YouTube getting you 10 years ?
  • spentshells
    Invasion of privacy, Japanese believe in privacy. This won't last long.
  • captainblacko
    may1It's simply a law to stop stupid people (basically the majority of Japanese users) downloading illegal contents.
    Have you any facts or figures to back up that comment?
  • curiosul
    may1It's pretty much ineffective, cyberlockers won't get you caught, and you can easily hide your IP using free public proxy servers on torrents. It's simply a law to stop stupid people (basically the majority of Japanese users) downloading illegal contents.
    It's not really ineffective. if it makes 10% of people to start buying things they would illegally download otherwise, the RIAJ got their lobby money back with interest. The way I see it, it's not about being right, it's about economics: biggest return (more people buying records) on the smallest investment (lobby a few politicians).
  • Camikazi
    captainblackoHave you any facts or figures to back up that comment?The majority isn't dumb but they aren't smart enough to use proxy or VPN to download safely so these types of things are made for that reason. These laws won't stop the smart users who know how to hide (which are a minority).
  • captainblacko
    the majority of internet users wouldn't know how to use a proxy or VPN. I was just trying to suggest that he shouldn't stereotype the whole Japanese population as being stupid. Really wound me up when i first read it haha.
  • ctbaars
    Not a problem in Japan yet. "Crime" of this type is very low. I can see them trying to prevent future cultural acceptance of such activity like in the US.
  • bluerhythm
    and don't forget to use a VPN that Doesn't keep logs.