Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Japan Gets Draconian On Piracy

Jail image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
If you're living in Japan and illegally download a file, you can now face up to 2 years in prison and a fine up to $25,000, thanks to a change in a law that was passed in 2010. But it's those who illegally upload a copyright infringing file that really have to worry, as the punishment is now a maximum of 10 years in prison and $125k fine. In theory, this punishment can be enforced over a single pirated file.

You can bet the music industry in countries around the world will be looking closely at how this law pans out. On one hand it seems incredibly harsh, and on the other, something so extreme might be the only way to stem the tide of illegal downloads, especially on the upload side.

If you listen to the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ), Japanese consumers illegally downloaded 4.36 billion music files illegally in 2010, while legally buying 440 million. The sounds suspiciously like the 10 to 1 ratio that the US RIAA has been using for some time (although sometimes they resort to an even higher 20 to 1 ratio). And as we all know, the RIAA's strategy of suing their own customers was a total failure as it didn't work and only resorted in very bad publicity for the industry.

But that was a civil matter, and while it carried some significant financial pain, there was no risk of going to jail. By changing this to a criminal matter, there is a different mindset involved as long as consumers are aware of the risk.

The question will be how the Japanese population will respond once its first 15 year old is sent to jail.

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