Alex Goldman is a producer for On the Media. One time he got run over by a car.
Illegal Downloading in Japan Can Now Land You In Jail
Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - 01:57 PM
Earlier this year, two bills that would've curbed privacy in the US were killed following a campaign by some big names on the internet (Google, Wikipedia, dozens of others) and a tidal wave of popular opposition. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), would have deputizes internet service providers and search engines in blocking websites that would host infringing content. This week, the Japanese legislature took a different tack in fighting piracy, passing an amendment to the country's copyright law which will result in penalties including jail time for illegal downloaders.
The bill will carry penalties of up to two years in jail or a fine of up to ¥10 million (USD: $125,000). According to Wired.com's Game|Life blog, the bill faced almost no opposition in the Japanese legislature. The Japan Times Online has reported that much like proposed anti-piracy bills in the US, Japan's IP lobby has long been in favor of bills like this.
The nation's music industry has long lobbied for tougher action on piracy, saying the acts have cost copyright holders a fortune. The Recording Industry Association of Japan estimates 4.36 billion pirated music files were downloaded in 2010, amounting to ¥668.3 billion in lost revenue for the industry.
In the Upper House committee meeting on Tuesday, however, DPJ member Yuko Mori said it's difficult for ordinary users to tell which files are illegal and that the bill's vague wording of punishing "those who are aware (of the illegality of downloading)" could lead to arbitrary prosecution. "We shouldn't risk making the general public — including youths — the subject of criminal investigations," she said.
Daisuke Tsuda, an IT and music journalist called in as an expert witness, also expressed fears that the prosecution of pirated music could eventually be extended to other materials such as games and writings, hampering the public's access to information and the long-term promotion of contents industries. He added that the government should think of ways to better clamp down on uploaders, not downloaders.
The law will go into effect in October.
(via Japan times Online)