A new amendment to Japan’s copyright laws proposes some serious jail time for those caught with illegal downloads or pirated copies of Blu-ray and DVD movies. CNET Japan has discovered that penalties issued could be as much as two years in prison or fines as high as 2 million yen (approx. $25,300). Hakubun Shimomura, a member of the Diet’s Lower House, supports the amendment, saying that if illegal downloads are allowed to continue unpunished, it will damage the growth of the internet.
Only one member of the Lower House, Takeshi Miyamoto, protested the amendment, saying that while the distribution of illegal content is a problem, instead of focusing on how to punish people, there should be more efforts towards the swift removal of uploaded content. While he was the only one to speak against the issue on the House floor, it seems it was in vain as the amendments were approved, and are now up for review by the Upper House to become law.
A 2009 amendment already recognizes the downloading of copyrighted music, movies, and video games as illegal, but as there are no real penalties, the law is hardly enforced. But this new amendment would greatly widen what is considered illegal. Not only recognizing downloads, a ban would be applied to copying discs with copy-protection or ripping them to a hard drive. Any software or device that gets around a disc’s protection methods is also outlawed. It would be illegal in Japan to do any of the following: make copies of movies or video games, upload the date to the internet or download it, and sell copies of the media or devices that can play the copied media.