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.┬áBut 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.