Earlier this week, the Japanese government revised its Copyright Law, making it possible for music/software/movie pirates to face up to 2 years in prison.
The bill makes downloading of such pirated content punishable by a maximum of two years in prison and/or a fine of up to ¥2 million. A 2010 revision to the same law made the downloading of such contents illegal, but avoided assigning penalties.
The uploading of pirated music and video content has long been illegal and carries a maximum 10 years in prison or a fine of up to ¥10 million.
People who make backup copies of legitimately purchased DVD’s could also face these penalties under the new revision.
Tech savvy people are understandably alarmed by this news. Some have suggested that the mere act of watching a YouTube video that contains copyrighted content could get you arrested.
However, as YouTube vlogger Victor (Gimmeaflakeman) explains, the reports about YouTube are exaggerated and sensationalized:
A Japanese government official has stated that watching a video would not be considered a crime. To violate the law, you would need to use software to save a copy of the Youtube video to your computer.
Although extremely harsh penalties will become a possibility, it is still unclear whether authorities will choose to apply them. My guess is that, like so many other crimes that carry possible jail sentences in Japan, first time offenders will get suspended sentences instead of serving actual time in prison.