Japanese music pirates face jail, big fines

People who download content from the internet without authorisation could face two years in prison or a fine of up to two million yen ($25,700), under new sentencing implemented in Japan from Monday.

The new regulations were passed in June, when the offence became a criminal rather than civil one, but only take effect from now.

In many countries around the world, approaching piracy has been balancing out in to a mix of graduated-response action (education, bandwidth throttling, sometimes disconnection), website takedowns and better legal content services. But Japan’s move is significantly more draconian.

Sony Music Unlimited was the first major streaming service to launch in the country this July – years after others in countries elsewhere.

BBC News: “The Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) had pushed for the move, suggesting that illegal media downloads outnumbered legal ones by about a factor of 10.

“The figure is based on a 2010 study which suggested that people in the country downloaded about 4.36 billion illegally pirated music and video files and 440 million purchased ones that year.”

Half-year internet music sales in Japan were 133 percent higher than a year earlier, according to RIAJ, while mobile music sales rose 63 percent and internet music subscriptions were 102 percent higher.