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Old 01-10-12, 19:51   #1
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Default Japan to make illegal downloading of music, videos punishable with jail terms

The government has passed a new amendment to its copyright laws, making illegal downloading punishable with jail terms for the first time.

The new law applies to those found in possession of pirated material such as music, DVDs or Blu-ray discs, and could result in fines of up to 2 million yen and sentences of up to two years in prison, according to CNET Japan.

The changes to the law bring Japan in line with the U.S., where downloading is already a criminal offense and punishments are even more severe. U.S. criminal penalties can run up to 5 years in prison or a $250,000 fine, 10 times higher than Japan.

The move has been welcomed by music industry figures, but has caused some concern among legal experts, NTV reported. The government claims the move has been introduced to protect people making music. Warner Music Japan CEO Keiichi Ishizaka has been quoted in the press as saying that he would like to see all illegal downloading eradicated

The downloading of copyrighted material without permission has been illegal in Japan since 2009, but as a civil matter, rather than a criminal one. As a result, punishments were restricted to those who uploaded pirated content. Uploaders were liable to face penalties of up to 10 years in prison or fines of as much as 10 million yen.

The bill passed the Lower House last Wednesday with little opposition, and passed the Upper House by a vote of 221 to 12, NTV reported. One of the few opponents of the bill, Takeshi Miyamoto, suggested although illegal downloading was a problem, a more effective approach to eradicating the practice would be to establish systems to efficiently remove illegal content, rather than to focus on punishment.

The Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) said it believes the amendments are good for the industry, and that it will strive to make the public aware of the new rules and penalties, the Nikkei reported. RIAJ 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 will come into effect in October.
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