October 2, 2012 9:53

Japan introduces prison sentence for illegal downloading

Those found guilty face up to two tears in jail or a £15,900 fine

Japan introduces prison sentence for illegal downloading

Photo: PA Photos

Japanese music fans found guilty of illegally downloading could now face up to two years in prison or a £15,900 fine after a change in the law.

Downloading copyright-infringing files has been illegal in Japan since 2010, but a successful lobbying campaign by the Japanese music industry has introduced the new tough penalties, the BBC reports.

Japan is the second-largest music market after the US and according to music industry body The Recording Industry Association, illegal downloads outnumber legal ones by 10 to one.

In theory the new tough laws could be enforced after one single illegal downloaded file. So-called "hacktiviststs" Anonymous, have been campaigning against the move, staging a protest in Tokyo last year. Other critics have said the focus should be on stopping users making illegal material available, rather than putting harsh sentences on downloaders.

Japan's action is part of a wider global crackdown on illegal downloading, with several countries taking action against The Pirate Bay torrent service, the founder of which was recently deported to Sweden to face tax charges.

Meanwhile, the US took illegal streaming service Megaupload offline, Ukraine has shut down BitTorrent's Demonoid and the UK jailed the owner of the Surfthechannel video site.

France issued its first fine earlier this year under its "three strikes" rule against piracy.

However, other laws to crackdown on piracy – including the US's Sopa (Stop Online Piracy Act) was put on hold after Wikipedia and other sites temporarily shut down in protest. Closer to home, the European Parliament rejected Acta (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) this summer.

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