Japan has stepped up its campaign against music pirates who now risk prison time for downloading an illegal file, but critics say it could criminalise innocent people.
Posted on Oct 01, 2012 02:24 pm
Japan has introduced an anti-piracy law that will target illegal downloaders with a two year prison sentence and a 2 million yen ($26,000) fine.
The Recording Industry Association of Japan claims that illegal downloads in the country outnumber legitimate ones by 10 to 1, and that the legal download market shrank by 16% in 2011.
The country already threatens people who originally upload illegal files with up to 10 years in prison and a 10 million yen ($128,000) fine, but the new law will criminalise people for simply downloading the content.
Torrent Freak highlights concerns over how copyright owners will prove that someone has downloaded content illegally.
For example, to track downloads over torrent sites the copyright owner would have to share the file in the first place. In theory, this makes it a legal download because it comes from the official rights holder.
And while torrent users are usually aware that they're committing an offence, there are fears that accidentally viewing an infringing YouTube video could break the law.
With global illegal music downloads estimated to top 405 million in the first half of 2012, many countries are introducing new laws to combat digital theft.
Last week the US ISP Mediacomannounced plans to ban pirates for life if they broke a new three-strike rule, which makes the US government's forthcoming plans for a nationwide six-strike rule look relatively tame.
Is the game up for illegal downloads, or do you think pirates will find a new way to evade the law? Might these changes give a welcome boost to the music industry? Let us know in the comments.