back to article Japan enacts two-year jail terms for illegal downloading

Downloading pirated material in Japan can now earn you two years in prison and a fine of two million yen ($25,600) for each purloined file, with uploaders facing 10 years in the Big House and a fine five times as large. The laws – some of the toughest ever enacted against illegal downloaders – were passed in June after strong …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isn't it time someone took the crooks to task for corrupting politicians and trying to put people in jail for spiting on the ground?

    This is seriously getting out of hand.

    1. Fibbles

      The punishments are certainly getting to the point of insanity.

      Luckily there is away to avoid them completely; don't download music you haven't bought a license for and don't upload music if you are not authorised to do so.

      It's not rocket science.

      1. fajensen

        Perhaps it is: If one were to blur the definition of "pirated material" ever so slightly one could perhaps also bust "unauthorised" people for reporting the latest radiation figures from Fukushima and damage The Recovery(tm).

      2. -tim

        Funny enough both the Japanese, French and New Zealand anti piracy web sites are using images that I own the copyright for. So do they go to jail or are they subject to 3 strikes as well?

        1. Piro Silver badge

          Go chasing them.

          Damn, man, if that's the case, go for it. There's no way to get rid of these retarded laws except for showing that even those in the "right" are in the wrong.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It will be just like trying to stop jail breaking. People will go to dark nets using encrypted tunnels to do their stuff with. The RIAA and RIAJ thinks that illegal downloading will stop all of their problems, they had better think again. I read an article showing that 70 percent of everyone between, I believe everyone between the ages 17-28 have downloaded illegal mp3's last year. That is a lot of jail space. The recording industry's whole philosophy of trying to own it all just might backfire in their face. No matter what, if they put reasonable copyright period on their material (not the current 120 years), made the material downloadable at a reasonable cost, they might be better off. Netflix and other like companies are doing more to fight piracy than all of the efforts of the recording industry.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "I believe everyone between the ages 17-28 have downloaded illegal mp3's last year"

          Oh, I guess that makes it OK then.

          "No matter what, if they put reasonable copyright period on their material (not the current 120 years), made the material downloadable at a reasonable cost"

          I agree with you about shorter copyright terms, but despite what you think, it is not an argument in support of freetardism.

          How much of the music that these people downloaded recently was ancient stuff from the back catalogue that should have been in the public domain ages ago and how much of it was recently released? I think you'll find most of what was downloaded is new music.

          What is a reasonable cost when people are used to getting everything for free? And why should a company selling an entertainment product, not a vital utility, be forced to set its prices at any rate other than that of its own choosing?

      4. James 51

        Given that the RIAA have sued people who don't own computers for downloading music that isn't much of a defense.

      5. Arthur 1


        "The punishments are certainly getting to the point of insanity.

        Luckily there is away to avoid them completely; don't download music you haven't bought a license for and don't upload music if you are not authorised to do so.

        It's not rocket science."

        Now granted beheading as a punishment for wearing yellow is getting to the point of insanity.

        Luckily, there is a way to avoid it completely: don't wear yellow and don't let others to wear yellow if not authorized to do so.

        It's not rocket science.

        Yeah, this line of reasoning seems like it only leads sensible places...

    2. JeeBee

      Absolutely ridiculous law. Politicians in thrall to corporations.

      I'd happily put a serial-ground-spitter in jail. Disgusting habit.

      These sentences show just what is important in modern political society. Download a file and you get a bigger fine and jail sentence than if you did GBH on someone. Never mind that jail is not a cheap option for society either.

      I would definitely say that the politicians in Japan are so out of touch with the mass public of their country and so in thrall to political lobby groups that they are enacting legislation that is actively against the people that they are meant to be representing.

      Simply put - if someone is downloading music and breaking copyright, then disable their internet access for a month or three until they stop doing it.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Extra sigh.....I am getting tired of this bullshit.

  3. Christoph

    What happens when a big business does it?

    When some big Japanese company grabs a photo off the web and uses it without permission, presumably it will be some bottom-level employee who does the time rather than the executive who set the policy making him do so?

  4. HMB

    $8 Billion iPod

    TED: $8 Billion iPod

    Very good TED video that

  5. b0llchit Silver badge

    A prominent example is required

    I vote for extremely strong enforcement of this new new law in Japan. It should first and foremost be applied to any and all employee, member, associate of the RIAJ (and their family members) and also any and all politician plus the politician's family and friends.

    Let's see how long this law survives...

  6. Anonymous Noel Coward

    Anime prices are way too expensive in Japan. Esp. since they only release two/three episodes a BD disk every two months or so. (And in rare cases, one.)

    11 Volumes (22 episodes + 1 OVA) at a price of $88.66 per volume.

    Would you pay nearly $1,000 for one series?

    1. JDX Gold badge

      No. I wouldn't watch it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      To be fair though, you could have watched it on the TV (bar the OVA), it isn't like it's a Shaft series or an ecchi series (Shaft tend to completely redo a lot of their visuals while ecchi tends to un-censor boobies)

      Hyouka was pretty good actually,.

      1. Anonymous Noel Coward

        Oh, I have the TV version.

        The whole censorship for nipples marketing tactic annoys the fuck out of me, though.

        Thank goodness for AT-X some of the time.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Discs in Japan are mainly for collectors who are willing to pay a premium. Ordinary people just watch these shows on TV and record them whilst their airing or via catchup services.

      You also have to remember that despite what the internet has led you to believe, most of the anime that westerners watch (usually aimed at geeky teenage boys (yes, even the school dramas centred around preteen girls and teddy bears, why did you think there was so much fanservice?)) is produced for a niche market in Japan. This is stuff made for the otaku not the general market and as a result the prices are higher at the point of sale.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blame Sony

    I'm sure they pushed for this law.

    1. Smithson

      Re: Blame Sony

      They did indeed. According to the BBC:

      "This revision will reduce the spread of copyright infringement activities on the internet," said the body's [The Recording Industry Association of Japan] chairman Naoki Kitagawa, who is also chief executive of Sony Music Entertainment Japan, earlier this year."

      A truly shitty law, pushed by a truly shitty company.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    but like most laws in Japan it'll only count if you haven't paid your weekly protection money...

  9. Mr Common Sense

    Ready fatboy 2

    and chocks away.

  10. stanimir

    Gratz Sony!

    title says it all

  11. Anonymous Coward

    This could work fine if only...

    ...we didn't read stories time and time again where authors get harassed for sharing their own work.

    Like last time where Google locked someone out of his own account simply because he was providing torrents of his own book. And with that I meant the book he wrote himself. He provided it as a free torrent download as well as something you can buy. Google quickly picked up on this and was determined that this guy was doing something illegal. Read about that here.

    As long as we have to put up with stupidity like that then I don't think laws such as these will bring us any justice. Far from it even... How long before someone gets fined for sharing (or downloading) his own stuff?

    Probably never because more than once such "success stories" are also kept out of the news from time to time. For the benefit of us all of course; who wants to read about such criminals anyway....

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Man, I bet Orlowski's going to break out the champagne tonight...

    1. asdf


      The only way this day could get better for him is if more evidence comes out about how the climate change thing is all one big hoax and he and his big oil buddies were right all along.

  13. James 51

    Wow. Over react much? Well that's the villains for lots of new manga and anime sorted out.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I for one

    can't wait until this pays off, as it undoubtedly will. This will mean the end of file sharing in Japan and RIAJ will see record revenues come in as everyone who would have downloaded something now goes out and buys it instead. This will provide an enormous boost for the Japanese economy. /sarcasm

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The new law also cover ripping data and format shifting making it illegal.

    Also the law doesn't seem to cover Manga or Software (guess who didn't pay the required bribes)

    Interesting abstract from a Japanese government study, as always facts mean little to law makers or media bodies.

    But yeah - nothing changes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Interesting that

      So obviously it's a load of floating turds - from the country that has no cannibalism laws.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Interesting that

        "from the country that has no cannibalism laws."

        Is that a big problem where you're from? I mean... I'm just saying...

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Well, manga's a tough one to police because it has a famous and prolific underground culture. Taking liberties on someone else's manga property is generally considered OK so long as you don't pass it off as the original. As for the medium itself, most collectors favor the print copy, which is hard to knock off. e-Manga is a niche market in a niche market, and a lot of the traffic flows overseas out of their jurisdiction.

    3. The BigYin

      Illegal in the UK too

      Format shifting remain illegal in the UK as well (unless that changed recently?)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Until the record companies refund anyone who has ever paid for the same A-track several times because they bought the album and the singles - for the all the non-album B-sides* - I'll have more sympathy.

    Or rather, more reasonably, lets say you can download with impunity as many tracks as you previously bought duplicates.

    When the record companies had the balance of power, they abused it. When the power shifted, they lobby. Okay, they have probably learnt their lesson. I have illegally copied music, but only after spending all of my week's expendable income* on music- there were no more sales to be made from me. I admit to that... if the record companies can admit to routinely charging twice for the same track, we can begin to have an honest negotiation. However, it seems that they want to play rough instead... and that hasn't really done anything for them in the last decade.

    *And that's not including the 'Japanese Imports' available at inflated price at a HMV in Blighty.

    **Some artists rely on the fact that their listeners have spent some of their income on illegal combustibles. Though not in Japan where it would cost the equivalent of £20 /gram.

  17. jubtastic1

    That seems unworkable to me

    I mean it's obviously supposed to be a big stick, but unless they intend to cripple their economy and divert all funds into building prisons they're going to have to be extreamly selective with it's application.

    But even so, download a TV series and you get imprisoned for life? can't see how that could possibly backfire.

  18. The BigYin

    This is fantastic news

    Now the artists, technical crews, production staff and everyone else who works in the creative industries can be sure of getting paid for their work in Japan. It's not like the media companies will defraud the artists (umm, apart from the fact they do), not pay them their contracted fees (umm, apart from the fact they do), engage in false accounting (umm, apart from the fact they do), claim rights to work that is not theirs (umm, apart from the fact they do), infringe on freedom of expression (umm, apart from the fact they do), act against free trade (umm, apart from the fact they do) or would in any way whatsoever act in a manner which one would say is against the common good (umm, apart from the fact they do).

    Copyright infringement is wrong. No question there at all. Zero. It's plain wrong. It is taking money out of the very pockets of the people you should be support (well, it would be if they were ever going to get it in the first place; but that's another story).

    But that is still not excuse to try and legislate your business model back into relevance (or install root-kist onto your computer's computers, eh Mr. Sony?). The people know the majors defraud the public and other staff, so they think "Big media execs can do it, why can't I? Why should I pay £20 for the same move again?" Well, the public can't afford the bribes and the poor sod who gets it in the next is the artist (they can't afford the bribes either). And it is bribery. Not lobbying, not education about the industry, not anything else. It's bribery, pure and simple.

    I for one would rather throw money at the folks behind "Iron Sky", "The Tunnel" etc than engage in the funding some execs nostril powder. As an example of the chicanery involved;

    1) How much money did "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" make?

    2) When did "Return of the Jedi" turn a profit?


    1) -US$167million (yes, it made a loss)

    2) It hasn't done so yet (despite the "Star Wars" franchise grossing US$33billion).

    And yet the MAFIAA wonders why some people think it's OK to infringe copyright and deny money to the talent. Sauce for the goose and all that. Oh, and think of that final figure. US$33billion. Despite all the infringement, fakes etc etc, they made US$33billion. Surely enough is enough, eh?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is fantastic news

      >t's plain wrong. It is taking money out of the very pockets of the people you should be support

      Even if I don't download it/rent it/buy it/watch it/borrow it/listen to it/read it/etc., they still haven't made any money, so is that "stealing" too?

      1. The BigYin

        Re: This is fantastic news

        No, because you have not consumed their output. There are different models, but I would say that if you consume someone's labour they deserve recompense (either directly from you or via advertising, whatever).

        The situation we have now is massive companies crying foul, having laws enacted, getting the recompense and then not passing it on. Clearly two wrong do not make a right, but if they want to be treated with any respect and have any validity; it's high time they led my example.

        Me; I'll continue to throw money at the artists/projects directly(ish) where I can.

    2. JeeBee

      Re: This is fantastic news

      Copyright is an artificial construct created by society to encourage the creation of artistic works that benefit society.

      As such, yes, it is wrong at a societal level to breach copyright.

      However since its creation, the concept of copyright has grown way way way beyond its remit. It really needs to be cut back to reasonable terms, so that society as a whole can benefit from the artistic works being released into the public domain eventually (and force the creation of new, different, artistic works, instead of the existing artistic works being re-milked for ever - i.e., copyright now works against its original intention).

  19. JaitcH

    Not a problem ...

    I never download Japanese stuff, not even the porn and I never visit Japan - I like my fish cooked and I object to them killing whales.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Not a problem ...

      Whoa... Wait... You discount an entire country based upon weird porn / raw fish / dead whales?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let the whining begin

    It ain't like the folks in Japan haven't had two years to smarten up. I'll bet the jail house conversation are hilarious. Is it really worth two years in jail to steal or distribute copyright protected digital products?

  21. hammarbtyp

    The Spartacus defence

    All that is required to kill this law dead is for everyone in Japan who has ever downloaded anything to stand up and demand they be punished to the limit of the law.

    1. The BigYin

      Re: The Spartacus defence

      Simple answer.

      Run an open guest network on your router, throttled so as to not kill all you bandwidth. Once enough people do that, downloads can still happen and there is now no way to prove who did what.

      Another law for the rich and greedy which actually has no effect and will simply make the problem worse.

  22. Piro Silver badge


    I don't see this being enforced in a corrupt way, no sir.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is what happens when

    You let media companies$ run the Government.


    The number of computer CPU cycles wasted on unnecessary DRM makes any attempt at solving climate change pointless, people "have to" buy the latest PC because their Bluray/etc won't play on a cheaper lower spec machine.

    I would like to be a fly on the wall when someone releases a virus which unlocks DRM the world over, unleashing a free for all as people format shift their content to play on any device.

    Bonus if it also lets you convert content into expensive propietry formats without paying for the priviledge.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This is what happens when

      AnyDVD will fix that little problem for a modest, one-time fee ;-)

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At that sort of jail time you'd be safer physically stealing a movie rather than downloading it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      At that sort of jail time,

      you'd be safer murdering a record executive and taking their wallet to buy media.

  25. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    One correction...

    As far as I know, in most countries *downloading* as much stuff as you want is not illegal. It's the uploading that is copyright infringement. People get caught up because they p2p such as bittorrent, so they in fact ARE uploading. (Laws like the one in Japan are unusual in this regard).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One correction...

      It doesn't matter if you are uploading or downloading it's a crime if you do not have the legal right to use or distribute copyright protected works. The only means to get this legal right is to pay for it in advance.

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