Japan cracks down on piracy


Japanese police have arrested 27 people in a coordinated crackdown on illegal downloading.

The arrests took place across all 47 of the country’s prefectures (state and provincial jurisdictions) between February 19 and 21. The individuals downloaded music, movies, games and TV programmes.

According to some reports, those arrested mainly used two file-sharing applications – one named Share and one named Perfect Dark.

Local reports suggest the crackdown is the first major response to revised Japanese copyright legislation. In June 2012, lawmakers criminalised the downloading of copyrighted material and copying of CDs and DVDs. The relevant charges carry prison terms of up to two years or a maximum fine of ¥2 million ($21,500).

Uploading copyrighted material was already a criminal offence, punishable by up to ten years in prison or no more than a ¥10 million ($107,000) fine.

In theory, the laws on downloading mean someone can be punished if he or she has copied a single file without authorisation.

The changes prompted widespread opposition in Japan. Sites belonging to courts, political parties and copyright owners were hacked and a group wearing masks associated with ‘hacktivist’ group Anonymous protested in the streets of Tokyo.

But Japanese copyright owners said the changes were necessary, arguing that the number of illegal music downloads outnumbers legitimate online purchases by about 10 to one.

The revisions were approved in June last year but came into effect in October. 

This article was first published on 05 March 2013 in World IP Review

japan, piracy, prefectures, anonymous

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