Downloading copyright infringing materials online has been illegal in Japan since 2010, but a new law introduces extreme penalties. Now it could cost internet pirates two million yen (£15,900) and up to two years imprisonment.
While uploading copyright infringing material already carries penalties of up to 10 years in jail and a 10 million yen fine, now the people who download what is available are punishable by law. And quite extremely. It is like sitting a little kid in front of a massive cake and telling him if he touches it, he’ll have his hand chopped off. Blame the parents, not the normal kid who reaches for the cake!
The Recording Industry Association of Japan has pushed for the law, based on 2010 studies suggesting that the Japanese download more than they buy (about 4.36 billion illegally pirated music and video files and 440 million purchased ones that year), while the Japan Federation of Bar Associations said the issue should have stayed a civil matter, not a criminal one and again, hackers took to some key government websites to protest.
While laws and penalties are already in place in most countries for uploaders (people who make the illegal content available), Japan is taking it a step further, making anyone who then consumes the content a criminal.
But how do you target downloaders? It is fairly easy to catch uploaders sitting on websites, but how does a government keep track of who then accesses the available material? The policing system is sure to become a nightmare, not only for the users but also for the government. If it was to be effective, the basic privacy rights of users could be endangered. A fact already demonstrated by a report that a system capable of automatically detecting unauthorised music uploads before they even hit the Internet has been developed. Spying on internet connections and having the assistance of internet service provider is the only way they can realistically integrate this kind of system.
Main Image: Joe Mabel