New Japanese copyright law fights piracy

The government of Japan has recently proposed a legislation that will make downloading any pirated content illegal. Offenders of this new Japanese copyright law may face up to 2 years in prison and a maximum fine of two million yen (over $18 000).

Updating copyright laws

Japan’s copyright laws already covered music and movies. After five meetings, the government decided that the law should be updated to cover all copyrighted material. This includes Anime and Manga; two industries that suffer a lot from piracy. The government is ready to tackle the roughly 200 so-called ‘leech sites’ that are active in Japan right now. These sites don’t actually contain any pirated content. However, they do provide links to websites that allow you to download pirated content. At the moment, these sites are in a legal grey area. But the updated law proposes punishment for all leech site operators.


The Mainichi states that the plan is to only punish serious offenders. This would include leech site operators, but also people who download copyrighted material repeatedly. Punishing someone with up to two years in prison and a two million yen fine will only be possible if the victim of the piracy files a criminal complaint.

Emergency statement

A group of over 80 academics, lawyers, researchers and other professionals urge the government to reconsider the updated law. In their emergency statement, they show concern for the creativity and research options that Japan’s citizenry will have once this new law is passed. It is unclear where the government draws the line. In other words, they might even outlaw taking a screenshot of a small piece of copyrighted text for personal research purposes. The group believes that the government has rushed into this and advices them to rethink the legislation. Only time will tell whether the government will actually do this or push the legislation forward.

If you’re interested in the progression of the European Union’s new copyright laws, better known as Article 13, check out this post!

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