Jail time, fines for illegal downloads debated in Japan
Japan's recording industry strongly backs criminal treatment of downloaders, while lawyers and media say it may be too harsh
IDG News Service - A revision to Japan's copyright law to impose criminal penalties on those who illegally download music and movies has sparked debate in the country.
On Wednesday, Japan's parliament passed a measure to revise the law so that downloading is a criminal activity, punishable by up to two years in jail or a fine of up to AY=2 million (US$25,000). The revisions will go into effect from October. Currently violations are considered a civil matter.
The drastic increase in punishment for what could be as little as a single download was highlighted in the Japanese media. The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan's largest newspaper, ran an article about the law Thursday with a headline that read "Even one click is now a crime?"
While online streaming and download services like Hulu and iTunes are popular in Japan, sales and rentals of physical CDs and DVDs are still common. Years after U.S. video rental firms like Blockbuster went bankrupt, Japanese equivalents like Tsutaya are still widely used.
The Recording Industry of Japan, a powerful music trade group, immediately applauded the new measure, and said it would work to inform people of the new penalties.
"This revision will reduce the spread of copyright infringement activities on the Internet," said Chairman Naoki Kitagawa, who is also the CEO of Sony Music Entertainment Japan.
But the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, a widely respected legal group, said that the law treating downloads as a civil matter, which was adopted in 2009, should have been given more time for its effectiveness to be judged.
"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," the group said in a statement.
A study published by the Recording Industry of Japan found that in 2010 about 4.36 billion such files were downloaded illegally, about ten times the 440 million files that were paid for. The study found that in Japan, dedicated video download sites are far more popular than peer-to-peer software, which can be harder to trace.
- Capabilities You Need in an IP Address Management Solution A mismanaged IP space can cripple an otherwise healthy network. Take a moment to understand what you need in an enterprise-ready IPAM solution.
- IPv6 Fundamentals IPv6 is needed to sustain the growth of the Internet. The transition from IPv4 will require planning and likely some degree of support...
- 3G/4G Digital Signage Guide Today, the widespread availability of 3G and 4G cellular or wireless broadband networks enables digital signage to be deployed virtually anywhere.
- Enterprises in Motion: In-Vehicle Networks In a world where traditional tethers to the central office have all but vanished, enterprises that operate vehicle fleets require constant and dependable...
- Accelerate your innovation with IBM Bluemix™ Join us for a webcast introducing the new IBM BluemixTM. IBM Bluemix (www.bluemix.net) is a developer oriented Platform as a Service (PaaS) environment...
- Maximizing Availability for the Modern Data Center Check out this information-packed resource center for help in maximizing the availability of your data center - from overcoming challenges to choosing the... All Internet White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!