Japanese gamers apparently face arrest if they lend their games to friends – police recently executed a search warrant based on the unauthorised lending of 5 games, charging the lender with copyright infringement.
Police raided a Kobe hotel after discovering they had freely provided Wii and PS3 consoles and games to guests, confiscating games and consoles as evidence.
The hotel, “Swing,” is accused of lending the games to at least 5 customers during 2010. In an unusual application of copyright law, police are charging the hotel with copyright violation, specifically the “screening” the games to guests without permission from the copyright holder.
Police are also investigating whether they were secretly operating a love hotel, another very serious crime.
Commercial game rental itself is illegal in Japan, but as freely lending a game to another party may constitute “unauthorised display,” gamers are also wondering if they face arrest for merely lending games to each other.
In particular, this rather draconian interpretation of the law suggests that virtually the entirety of Japan’s manga cafe industry is in fact illegal, as they likely do not seek permission from every copyright holder of the products they lend to customers on their premises.