Japan introduces punishment for illegal downloads

  • Internet users in Japan who download copyright infringing files could face up to two years in prison or fines of up $25,000 following a change to the law.

    Such activity has been illegal since 2010 but previously went unpunished.

    Illegal uploads of copyright infringing music and videos carry a maximum 10-year prison sentence and a $128,000 fine.

    Politicians voted through the change in June.

    Shortly after, the website of the government's finance ministry was defaced while the sites of the Supreme Court, the country’s political parties and the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers were briefly taken offline due to cyber attacks.

    According to a 2010 study, people in Japan downloaded about 4.36 billion illegally pirated music and video files compared to 440 million purchased files that year.