updated 02:36 pm EDT, Thu June 21, 2012
Downloads punishable by two million yen fine, two years in prison
A change to copyright law in Japan sees harsher penalties on illegal downloaders of movies and music. Japan's legislature, the Diet, made downloading a crime punishable by a fine of two million yen ($25,000) or up to two years in prison. Some groups, including the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, find this to be an excessive measure in a country that still relies on the sales and rentals of physical CDs and DVDs as opposed to legal download services.
The JFBA believes that the previous incarnation of the law was more appropriate, which saw violations as a civil matter. Adopted in 2009, treating downloading as a civil instead of a criminal matter should have been given more time to see how it was working, according to the group, adding that "treating personal activities with criminal punishments must be done very cautiously, and the property damage caused by individual illegal downloads by private individuals is highly insignificant."
Trade group the Recording Industry of Japan believes the amendments are good for the industry, and said it will promote the new rules and potential penalties to the public. RIJ chairman and CEO of Sony Music Entertainment Japan Naoki Kitagawa claimed the changes would "reduce the spread of copyright infringement activities on the Internet."
The new law changes will come into effect in October.