As of 1 October, one of the most stringent anti-filesharing regimes in the world has come into effect in Japan.
In June 2012, Wired.co.uk reported that the anti-piracy legislation had passed both houses of the Japanese Diet. Now authorities are able to arrest and charge people for downloading copyrighted content illegally, with a maximum penalty of up to two years in prison or a fine of up to two million yen (£15,841). The bill has been called "one of the most draconian in the world" by Torrent Freak for its criminalisation of, and severe penalties for, even the most minor of infringements.
Online piracy had been illegal in Japan since 2010, but that only covered the uploading of pirated content, which could be punished with up to ten years in prison or a fine of up to 10 million yen (£79,236). The new bill, however, specifically crimininalises the deliberate downloading of similar content, which is unusual compared to other countries such as France which have laws we would also consider strict (including the "three strikes" rule). The aim is to stop content getting online in the first place.
However, this new bill is written to cover such a broad number of online offences with its strict penalties that many worry it could open the door to abuses of power by the authorities. Something as relatively trivial as watching a YouTube video could bring prosecution, and the only protection is the defence that the content was downloaded unknowingly -- often tricky to prove either way. The Japanese Federation of Bar Associations has even issued a statement to the BBC stating that piracy should have remained a civil, not criminal, matter.
Japan is the world's second largest music market, but the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) has been keen to quote a study from 2010 which stated that illegal music downloads outnumbered legal ones in the country by ten to one. That's part of the justification for the bill, which was drafted after intensive lobbying from the music industry.
Meanwhile, if you look at the RIAJ's own statistics, you'll note that online music sales are around 70 percent higher so far this year without the extra legislation having come into effect.
The Global Post reports that shortly after the bill came into effect, several government sites -- including those of political parties -- were taken down by denial of service attacks, along with the site for the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers.
We are here to help. For recording artists, music publishers, music labels and movie studios-- we identify and educate individual copyright infringers who may be using copyrighted material without permission...
An excellent approach to the issue outlined very clearly...