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Japan's downloaders could face jail

By Rachel Weber

Japan's downloaders could face jail

Wed 20 Jun 2012 8:17am GMT / 4:17am EDT / 1:17am PDT

Proposed law will mean unauthorised downloads and copies could earn you 2 years

Japan could have a new law by next year that will make unauthorised copies, downloads or related devices a criminal offence with a possible to year prison sentence.

Wired reports that the new law is currently being debated by the country's Upper House. It's already illegal to download copyrighted material in the country, but this move would up the possible punishments to a two year jail sentence or a two million yen (about $25,400) fine.

"Allowing illegal downloads to exist as they do now will harm the growth of the Internet," argued supporter and Lower House member Hakubun Shimomura, while fellow member Takeshi Miyamoto stood alone in opposing the move.

"The illegal flow of material is a problem, but rather than strengthening the penalties, we should bolster the deletion of illegally uploaded content."

The amendments, which were supported by the country's three main political parties won't just affect pirates, but anyone copying a DVD or Blu-Ray to their hard-drive. It would also affect any software designed to beat copyright protection, and the uploading, downloading, and sale of copied data.

Last month Japanese authorities arrested a man under the Unfair Competition Prevention Act over Majikon adapters for the Nintendo DS console.

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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 595 0.4
Excellent. Let's bring this here. And everywhere else. Imagine if they had this law in places like China, Spain and Greece.

Posted:4 years ago


Andrew Animator

148 158 1.1
I think its incredibly grey......

Whilst I totally support the penalties towards people caught illegally downloading games, music, films etc, I think it is very wrong to punish people for making legitimate backups of products which they OWN.

With everything going digital it is very small to think that everything should be held on a cd, there is huge arguments for the convenience of allowing people to build up digital media collections. And wether you buy the product on disc or download it (LEGALLY), it should not matter if you put it on a hard drive for your own enjoyment.

Does this for example make it illegal to put your music on an Ipod???
Can you record films and tv off broadcats television for future viewing?
Can you take a steam backup of a game and save it on a different computer?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrew on 20th June 2012 10:10am

Posted:4 years ago


Andrew Animator

148 158 1.1
The trick is to make people feel like they are getting value for money, then they won't look for the products elsewhere.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrew on 20th June 2012 10:24am

Posted:4 years ago


gi biz ;,

341 52 0.2
@Bruce: I think those Countries' jails are already overflowing and they have far more serious issues to deal with than copyright infringement.

My usual complaint about this is what happens to old or hard to find products. Say I want to install Windows 3.1 on an old PC or I want to see that old movie that is not found on DVD: do I go to jail in those cases? Those laws need to be more precise in my opinion. What happens to abandonware, fansubs or even fan products using copyrighted material (ie: those games made with RPG maker and such)?

One thing we should consider is that "old games" is an expanding category. It doesn't only mean Pac Man and Galaga, but also Tomb Raider, Tekken, Vigilante 8. It will someday mean Skyrim as well.

Posted:4 years ago


Hugo Dubs Interactive Designer

163 24 0.1
@Michele: I totaly agree with you! If they wanna make it works, they should start building new jails right now because it will be a massive exode to prison.

Posted:4 years ago


Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D

863 708 0.8
Don't forget that, when downloading, people are often uploading too - so even if someone wants to download something they already own, they're also making it available for others to download, many of whom WON'T own it.

Just sayin'.

Posted:4 years ago


Andrew Animator

148 158 1.1
Don't forget that, when downloading, people are often uploading too - so even if someone wants to download something they already own, they're also making it available for others to download, many of whom WON'T own it.

Just sayin'.
That wasn't what I was describing though. What I was suggesting is people (i think quite rightly) should be able to make personal backups of physcial items they already own. IE, ripping a music cd to a computer. I wasn't suggesting anyone should download an equivalent pirate copy.

And just to play devils advocate, you are descibing P2P which isn't as popular as it used to be.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrew on 20th June 2012 4:06pm

Posted:4 years ago


Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

2,019 2,375 1.2
What happens to abandonware, fansubs or even fan products using copyrighted material
Fansubbed anime and TV is still incredibly popular (though more in the US/Europe than Japan, obviously). Should this pass, will it be illegal to own within Japan? What about fansubbing for personal/private pleasure? What about a source uploading the raw of last night's ep to a friend in the US?

It's a very... broad law, shall we say.

Then again, Japan has some weird laws. Last I read, smoking weed carried a harsher penalty than cocaine use.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 20th June 2012 6:59pm

Posted:4 years ago


Keldon Alleyne Handheld Developer, Avasopht Ltd

621 727 1.2
I think we as people have a tendency to go into lynch mode rather than do what is just. That mentality is no different to those thuggish youths who would respond with a similar sentiment.

Whether piracy is harmless or a menace, the system of justice should not be determined by the power of the offended party (film and music industry), but by reason.

And should it even be punished? When we're talking about mass organized "dbd" selling, then surely, that's the territory of business. But an individual downloading an episode of One Tree Hill that he missed last Thursday, oh please!

Punishment should be proportional to the crime, not just influence. The crime here is evasion of the corporations protocols when accessing their content, which may circumvent payment, and also the supporting of these evasion possibilities.

Ideally they have also bypassed various scarcities in regards to whether they should buy (or access) the given material and increases ones opportunities without any effort. As an example, I've not purchased Rosetta Stone. If I were a pirate, I wouldn't be making that decision, I'd just download it. So in not pirating I must decide between purchasing Rosetta Stone and taking other opportunities that require my payment.

So how should that behaviour best be punished? if at all.

Posted:4 years ago


Mark Gilbert Games Designer, Abstraction Games

14 0 0.0
I think this article might need an update or an extension with some other info:

This law is so badly worded it affects all citizens whether in japan or not
It affects things that are uploaded by others on youtube, even if you're just watching it you're breaking this law.


Posted:4 years ago


Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd

1,025 1,486 1.4
It's interesting that people are talking about making personal backups, because US law actually allows you to do so with any product you own... however, the law requires you make the backup from your own product. This is called fair use, and it's basically legal to do whatever you want with a product you purchase, as long as you don't distribute it to others. Japan could do with similar consumer protection.

Posted:4 years ago


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