Copyright infringes should now be even more afraid. Illegal downloaders could face up to two years in prison and a fine of 2 million yen (approx. $25,600). Uploaders of infringing material, on the other hand, could be facing up to 10 years and 10 million yen ($128,000).
Downloading and uploading of copyrighted material has been illegal in Japan since 2010, but it is only now that the government has applied penalties. This has partly been seen as a product of the lobbying of the music labels. Figures have been cited showing that the amount of illegal downloads of music and video files in 2010 was around 4 billion, roughly 10 times more than the 400 million legal purchases in that same year. Japan is following the path of other countries such as the U.S., France, and others in attempting to curb piracy.
Things have not gone smoothly though. A group of activists wearing masks associated with the hacktivist group Anonymous staged a protest in Tokyo. Following the approval of the changes to the anti-piracy law, the websites of the ministry of finance, the Supreme Court, and some political parties have been defaced. Similar legal proposals have also been met with opposition. The U.S. has delayed discussion on the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (S.O.P.A.) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (P.I.P.A.) because of wide protest. The European Union has also voted to reject the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (A.C.T.A.) in response to mass opposition.
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