Downloading Pirated Content in Japan May Land Internet Users in Prison for Two Years

By Nitish Singh / February 14, 2019

The government of Japan has adopted a new policy that will criminalize downloading pirated content. While there is already existing legislation that makes downloading pirated content illegal, it is limited to music only. The update to the law will account for manga, anime and other copyrighted content. Infringing users my face up to two years of prison.

Japan's interest in criminalizing piracy was first reported last year, with the Cultural Affairs Agency considered making piracy activity illegal. An estimated public 200 file-sharing websites are active in Japan that allows users to download various types of pirated content. The new law will punish internet users who actively share links to pirated content.

The new policy was adopted by Japan’s government on Wednesday. Aside from the prison sentence, guilty individuals may also face a fine amounting to a maximum of two million yen. However, the amount is subject to change, and the maximum fine may be imposed on serious offenders only. The sentences will be handed down only if copyright holders and others suffering from infringement file criminal complaints.

An advisory of the Japanese government had recommended outlawing pirate indexing sites. While the websites do not contain pirated content by themselves, they offer links to other websites hosting pirated content. TV shows, movies, and music make up for most of the piracy globally, but the Japanese manga and anime industry suffers heavily from piracy as well. While the new law in Japan is yet to be implemented, the law will most likely go into effect considering the interest shown by the government and the Cultural Affairs Agency in the past.

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