Yesterday saw the introduction of new anti-piracy legislation in Japan that is amongst the strictest types of this kind of law in the entire world.
In many countries users are only targeted by the law when they upload copyright-infringing material to other internet users however the legislation introduced in Japan means that anyone caught downloading material that is considered to be infringing copyright could end up serving jail time!
One of the reasons that the Japanese legislators introduced such a strict law was due to intense pressure and lobbying from the Recording Industry of Japan and their IFPI affiliates. They claimed that the music industry in the country was under serious threat from illegal downloads which according to their statistics, eclipse music brought from an official source by 10 to 1.
Japan’s law would see criminal penalties imposed on people merely for downloading copyrighted material, whereas many other countries seek punishment only for those who distribute content that infringes copyright.
The Japanese law already gives authorities the power to punish uploaders with prison sentences that can span up to 10 years in length and a fine of up to 10 million yen ($128,300).
Now this new amendment means that downloaders are also committing a criminal act and can end up with a 2-year jail term or a fine of up to 2 million yen ($25,680).
TorrentFreak has predicted that this new change to the law could cause a whole host of complications. They said:
“On BitTorrent, for example, rightsholders would have to be the ones actually sending the infringing material to a file-sharer in order to know that he or she is downloading it. This scenario could cause complications, since rightholders already have permission to upload their own content, making the source a legal one.
But for the implications for ‘downloaders’ could be even more widespread. The generally tech-savvy BitTorrent user understands the potential for being targeted for sharing, but by making mere downloading a criminal offense it is now feared that those who simply view an infringing YouTube video could also be subjected to sanctions.”