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Anime Government Japan Piracy The Courts Your Rights Online

Illegal Downloading Now a Crime In Japan With Increased Penalties 286

eldavojohn writes "Although downloading songs without paying for them in Japan used to be a civil offense starting in 2010, it is now a crime with new penalties of up to two years in prison or fines of up to two million yen ($25,700). The lobbying group behind this push for more extreme penalties is none other than the RIAJ (the Japanese RIAA). The BBC notes this applies to both music and video downloads which may put anime studios in a particularly uncomfortable position."
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Illegal Downloading Now a Crime In Japan With Increased Penalties

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  • Isn't Japan the country whose P2P scene is dominated by darknet software like Winny and Share?
    • by vovick ( 1397387 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @08:58AM (#41512227)

      Yes, and IMO this is pretty much the reason for such high penalties. Every now and then when someone gets actually caught it makes a sensation in the news.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Said darknet software is closed-source though. There is no solid evidence that it is actually well-designed and secure. I seem to recall a few analyses that suggested that it isn't.

    • by shoemilk ( 1008173 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @09:15AM (#41512351) Journal
      One big thing about this law is a DMCA-like crack down on circumventing DRM and most Japanese language articles about this talk about it including making copies of movies or CDs that you rent. I didn't go to a rental store today, but it's always been one of my personal pleasures to walk into a movies store and the main display when you walk in is piles of blank CDs and DVDs. The largest chain Tsutaya often doubles as a bookstore with books and magazines teaching you how to rip CDs and DVDs were prominently displayed. I might go down tomorrow to see if it's changed at all. Though when the price of a new CD is generally $30+, it makes a lot of sense that most Japanese people would just rent and rip.
  • Anime (Score:5, Funny)

    by greg1104 ( 461138 ) <> on Monday October 01, 2012 @08:57AM (#41512223) Homepage

    If you think the anime studios are in a particularly uncomfortable position, you should see what happens to their characters.

  • by fox171171 ( 1425329 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @09:03AM (#41512265)
    Hopefully a family member of someone from the RIAJ, or maybe a politician's kid will be the first one caught.
    • Re:Start at the top (Score:4, Informative)

      by JockTroll ( 996521 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @09:08AM (#41512307)
      Are you so naive as to think the law applies in equal measure to the proles and to the lords of the ruling elite? Grow up.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Are you so naive as to think the law applies in equal measure to the proles and to the lords of the ruling elite? Grow up.

        "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges."

  • Somewhat fair (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jones_supa ( 887896 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @09:17AM (#41512357)
    I guess one is supposed to be pro-piracy around here, but I am OK with piracy being reduced. If the artist(s) want a monetary compensation for their works, it's a fair deal. Of course if they set a price too high or make a crappy product, it's also fair for me to not buy it. But it's not a excuse to download it for free... Unless the producers choose so. For example if the anime studios feel that piracy has helped them, then why not just put up some free clips online in the future, by your own.
    • Re:Somewhat fair (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Zimluura ( 2543412 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @09:30AM (#41512465)

      I used to be strictly anti-copyright-infringement, but when I learned how these **AAs buy laws from my politicians. And then look at my relatively small disposable income (not nearly enough to buy politicians), well, that's when I started to feel maybe it's time for some civil disobedience. It's at least time to not give the **AAs any more money.

      Free Culture []

    • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @10:46AM (#41513243) Journal
      I am against piracy as well, but with a fair few 'buts'. I agree that artists and media companies should be able to make money, but I do not agree to the notion that they can freely set the terms of the sale. First of all, the question of anti-competitive practice comes into play, with essentially one huge lobby group setting these terms, or lobbying for them. Second, copyright is a right granted (and enforced) by society to allow creators to charge for their work (amongst other things). It is only fair that we as society attach some conditions to that privilege to protect consumers. Fair use rights cone to mind.

      As things stand, these laws are slanted firmly against us consumers. Unsurprising, given the lobbying power of the industry. I like the stance of the Pirate Party and some other sensible parties who state: we will not prosecute downloading of pirated material until there is a viable legal alternative. Viable means: priced right, with a good, current selection of material, and respecting consumers rights to make personal copies, format shift, etc. I'd like those rights to be firmly set into law as well at some point, but right now there is little chance of that. Until then: screw you, MPAA. (Not RIAA though, I find the current offering of music to be acceptable, and I haven't pirated any music in years)
    • You're not supposed to be anything. Being against copyright infringement is a perfectly valid position.

      But being pro or against copyright infrigement is inconsequential. The important questions are: should it be punished? And what are you willing to sacrifice to punish it? Because the only way to stop it is to enforce draconian measures on everyone. Is it worth it?

    • Re:Somewhat fair (Score:5, Informative)

      by melikamp ( 631205 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @11:43AM (#41513813) Homepage Journal

      Until the advent of the Internet, "piracy" referred exclusively to commercial distribution. You decided to side with **AA and start calling non-commercial distributors, a.k.a. sharers, pirates. Have you ever copied or made a mix tape or CD for you friend, pirate?

      But it's not a excuse to download it for free...

      Hey, let's see what UDHR says. I don't know if you care at all about this particular document, but we have to start somewhere, and UDHR represents a rather broad consensus on the subject of human rights.

      Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

      Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.

      Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

      It is very clear that consenting parties have a bloody right to exchange any information, and especially anything of cultural or scientific value, and you have no business meddling, as long as the exchange is non-commercial. If a Chinese printer is selling bootleg CDs, shut him down. If a torrent site makes ad money, take it down. But when you bring the hammer to individual sharers, that's a clear-cut case of censorship and oppression. Do you want to live in a country where people are jailed for emailing a file to a friend? Because that's what you are advocating.

      There are many ways to reward artists for their labor, but you and your MAFIAA friends pretend that isn't so. You would like us to believe that the ONLY way to reward recording artists and movie makers is through a system of universal censorship and surveillance. You ignore the fact that other options are on the table: a system of voluntary donations and a culture tax are among them. These are perfectly sound ways to protect material interests of artists without throwing people in jail, but I guess you'd rather continue living in an oppressive state where the human right of free expression is spit upon, and where music, movie, and news businesses are run by racketeers. Good sailing, my friend.

    • Re:Somewhat fair (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @12:16PM (#41514243)

      The problem in this case is not that piracy is illegal but that it's disproportionatly punished.

  • by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @09:17AM (#41512359) Homepage Journal

    boycott. don't buy any material falling under this law. When enough do this sales will drop and they will notice. Out of sight & sound out of mind and ear. It doesn't exist.

    There is plenty available for free.

  • I would love to see (yeah it'll never happen) if nobody pirated _anything_ for a year. Would that kill the industry outright you think?

    • by JWW ( 79176 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @09:29AM (#41512451)

      Exactly. Many, many of the people who pirate stuff also buy stuff.

      It is just as easy to stop pirating AND buying as it is to just stop buying.

      Plus there is no difference having an mp3 on your computer from a CD you legally purchased and ripped, and then later lost, versus having a pirated mp3. But when criminal jailtime is in play, this translates into having any mp3's on your computer being a bad idea that could land you in jail.

      Draconian laws that can ruin someones life will eventually provide the impetus for people to stop pirating stuff AND stop buying stuff. Total avoidance will be the safest policy.

      Then those police state espousing motherfuckers at the RIAA and MPAA can go the hell out of business.

      The RIAA and MPAA should start tracking how the animosity that their customers feel about them impacts the bottom line. I wonder if they'd find a trend.

      • by Kartu ( 1490911 )
        I also hope it would one day stop people from voting from asshats that vote for draconian laws.
        Mind you, "Piraten Partei" in Germany is expected to have about 8% country-wide.
    • by mark-t ( 151149 )


      But I believe the odds are pretty heavily in favor of nobody actually noticing.

  • What a ridiculously disproportionate penalty, I thought only the US was that screwed up.
    I blame Sony.

    I'm living in Japan, so lately I have been renting a "seedbox" in the Netherlands for $15/month.
    I can download whatever I want to through the web interface, then copy it via sftp.
    I'm sure solutions like this will start becoming a lot more common soon.

  • To me it seems like the RIAA and the fim makers have opposing goals.
    The RIAA seems to want people to pirate (proof: the unskippable "educational" messages and other bothers that don't appear in the pirated version) so they can sue them and get some money. Thus they lower the quality of the official versions with respect to the pirated versions. The film makers want to sell their films, and don't want the viewers to pirate. To lower the quality of the official versions with crap like unskippable messages is contraproductive to this. Somehow the RIAA has the film makers believing the nagscreens are good. Dunno how they did it.
  • Basic Math (Score:4, Informative)

    by Mansing ( 42708 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @09:44AM (#41512575)

    Population of Japan: ~128 million
    Estimated Illegal Downloads: 4.38 billion

    That works out to be a 34 songs per person per year in Japan. Somehow the mathematics just aren't there ....

    • Re:Basic Math (Score:4, Insightful)

      by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @10:08AM (#41512839)

      That works out to be a 34 songs per person per year in Japan. Somehow the mathematics just aren't there ....

      The number seems quite reasonable to me. Since downloading is except for the risk of being caught essentially free, there will be many people downloading whatever they can, with the purpose of the downloading being to _have_ thousands of songs, instead of _listening_ to thousands of songs.

  • ... because it goes against the laws of nature. Lets face it. There is no way you're going to be able to take away all the computers now in existence for creating and copying content. Not only that anyone who makes war on general computing will eventually leave a giant market open to competitors who's machines are not locked down. This happened with DVD players, why wouldn't it happen with computers?

  • 1. Gather a list of hundreds of thousands of torrent downloader IPs.
    2. Demand that these IPs be reversed to actual people and prosecuted at government cost.
    3. Threaten that the RIAJ will start a public campaign accusing anyone who does not support the prosecution of everyone on the list of being "soft on crime".
    4. Profit.

    Socialize the costs, privatize the profits. This is a really big win for the recording industry.

  • by Dcnjoe60 ( 682885 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @09:50AM (#41512645)

    Average kid downloads 1,000 songs that could have been purchased for $0.99 each, so studios lost $999 (artists even less). Average Chinese bootleg produces 100,000 CDs and studios lose $1.3M. Why not go after the real problem?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Studios didn't "lose" anything - they just didn't sell that much...
    • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @10:19AM (#41512949) Homepage
      I get your point, but the kid didn't have $999 in the first place, and the purchasers of bootleg DVDs don't have that $1.3 million. If we accept those numbers, then we're just confirming the delusional math of the the "Associations" (pronounced "cartels").
    • The reason they don't go after the real problem is that the *are* the real problem. The don't fill a need anymore. Poor independent bands can buy or rent the equipment to record their gigs on the money they make from them, and distribute it for micropayments online, and market themselves through social media and viral youtube videos. The last claim they have is some sort of content filtering to get rid of all that terrible music you would have to listen to to find what you want. The epublishing business

  • ... is that treating the downloading of infringing content as a crime is virtually impossible to enforce universally.

    Of course, laws prohibiting speeding only tend to catch a few people too... so I would argue that the inability to enforce it universally should not be an excuse to not try. At the very least, perhaps, some may simply curtail the illegal behavior only because they do not wish to be caught.

    (Disclaimer... since the last time I said something like this here, it evidently wasn't obvious):

  • fines of up to two million yen ($25,700)

    And this is still far less than the $150,000 maximum for the civil penalty in the US. Joel Tenenbaum owes the RIAA $675,000. He might prefer two years in jail compared to a lifetime of indentured servitude trying to pay them off.

  • Game over man. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Egdiroh ( 1086111 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @02:34PM (#41516261)
    The Subject "Illegal Downloading now a Crime", says it all, and what it says is that the corporations have won. If it was illegal downloading then it would have already been a crime, or it would not have been illegal downloading. "Illegal Downloading", has traditionally not been an actual thing but instead is a term used as a scare tactic. Similarly there is no such thing as an illegal copy. Traditionally, it has been the distribution or copying itself that is illegal, unlike stolen goods which remain tainted, Copies made without authorization have no lasting taint to them. So traditionally it has been the case that if someone serves you a song, they are the ones that are liable. If you serve it back out because you're on P2P, then and only they are you also liable. But the PR war was so effectively won, that this major change, is mis-reported.

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.