Japanese law threatening jail terms for illegal downloaders comes into effect

1 Oct 2012

Earlier this year, as a result of lobbying from the music industry, politicians in Japan voted to change the legislation around illegal file sharing to impose prison terms of up to two years on downloaders. This law came into effect today.

Previously, Japanese legislation was in line with that in many countries in that those who uploaded copyrighted material for others to download were targeted as criminals, not those who downloaded it.

According to a report from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), one in every 10 music downloads in Japan violates copyright law, and the rise of illegal downloads has seen figures for authorised digital downloads in Japan decline for the second year in a row.

In response, the Recording Industry Association of Japan and affiliates of the IFPI have lobbied for a change in legislation. Under the new law, users that knowingly download unauthorised copyrighted material could be punished with up to two years in prison and fine of 2m yen (close to €20,000).

Japan’s music industry is the second-largest in the world, topped by the US where anti-piracy legislation like SOPA and PIPA has been widely opposed and procedures to enforce these laws were postponed as a result. Similarly, when the Japanese law was originally approved by politicians in June, protests were held that aligned themselves with hacktivist group, Anonymous.

Online piracy image via Shutterstock

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.