01 Oct 2012

Japan Users Face Jail for Illegal Downloads


Japan-based Internet users face up to two years in prison and fines up to two million yen ($25,700) for illegal downloads after a copyright law change in the country, according to the BBC. The measures can be enforced even if a user has copied a single pirated file.

The legislation change follows intensive pressure from the music industry, which asked for more severe punishments. The Recording Industry Association of Japan suggested illegal downloads outnumber legal ones by a factor of 10. Research showed that Japan-based users downloaded in 2010 about 4.36 billion illegally pirated music and video files, and legally bought only 440 million.

"This revision will reduce the spread of copyright infringement activities on the internet," said the chief executive of Sony Music Entertainment Japan, Naoki Kitagawa, earlier this year, as quoted by the BBC.

Piracy in Japan has been illegal since 2010, but this is the first time downloaders risk more severe punishments. Penalties were already established for those who upload content that infringes copyright: a maximum 10 year prison sentence and a 10 million yen fine. After the US, Japan is the second-largest music market in the world, according to recent sales figures. Japanese politicians approved the change in June, and a series of online and offline protests followed, including cyber attacks.