Japan Bans Illegal Downloads & Ripping


Japan’s law banning unauthorised downloads or ripping of copyrighted material came into effect on the 1st of October, with a maximum prison sentence of 2 years awaiting the vast majority of Japan’s Internet users if they are unfortunate enough to be caught downloading music and videos.

Illegal downloads of music and videos now attract up to 2 years in prison and 2 million yen in fines. Previously such downloads were both a civil offence and a criminal offence with no actual penalty.

The law has already been widely criticised for being hugely vague and ambiguous as to what actually constitutes an offence – in the usual tradition of Japanese lawmaking (prostitution and obscenity laws being the most stunning examples), it seems the law will be sweeping and draconian on paper, allowing police plenty of leeway to pick and choose which parts they decide to enforce, whilst allowing them maximum freedom to crack down should they so wish.

Authorities do say illegally downloaded files which are cached will not be subject to prosecution, but the law itself contains only vague provisions (although it does exempt “unknowingly” downloaded material and material copied by way of “efficient data processing mechanisms”), apparently largely leaving the matter up to police and prosecutors.

Whether viewing an infringing movie on YouTube constitutes a crime is still undetermined – the movie would be downloaded and remain cached on the user’s PC, possibly constituting a crime, and the government has said it will not be prosecuting such offences.

They do however say viewing such videos is “undesirable,” none too subtly hinting that this may be a temporary exemption at best.

There is also vagueness as to how the law applies to anime and other TV broadcasts – it applies only to “paid” distribution, so freely aired TV broadcasts are said to be exempt.

However, videos distributed on DVD, or as PPV or paid downloads, are covered, and the government has stated that it has decided that all downloads of broadcasts which are later released in this form will become subject to the law, muddying the waters even further.

Oddly, the law seems to entirely omit certain categories of content, such as printed content (manga) and software – the bill’s creators apparently not having been paid off by these industries – instead concentrating exclusively on audiovisual recordings.

Unauthorised distribution (as opposed to downloading) of copyrighted material has been criminalised for some time, and is unaffected by the new law.

The other major aspect of the law has been to indiscriminately ban “ripping” – all format shifting of protected content is now a crime, in a much belated rerun of the original DMCA’s most criticised and dated element.

A side effect of the new law some critics have also mentioned is that now it is likely that, should they be so minded, police will be able to arrest virtually anyone whose PC they may happen to get a look at (as even those without any downloaded porn will surely have some YouTube videos or similar in their cache) – handily allowing them to ensure virtually any search of a suspect’s home or belongings results in an offence they can easily prosecute.

The most enthusiastic proponent of the law, which passed into law with barely any debate or opposition from lawmakers (only the communists bothered to oppose it), were Japan’s notorious record industry mafia bodies JASRAC and the RIAJ – they have been following through on their triumph by plastering schools with posters denouncing the scourge of free music, as part of a public awareness campaign centred on schoolchildren:


Although the music industry religiously believes its CD sales will skyrocket if it can only somehow ban the Internet, Japan’s anime industry in particular may be wondering whether the law will gut its free promotion machine – as even government studies have seemingly demonstrated, piracy appears to actually increase its sales.

Online there is the usual utterly ineffectual wailing and gnashing of teeth:

“It’s here!”

“Die pirates!”

“I’m reporting you all!”

“Let me just go and sell my PC.”

“I’m more bothered about them banning ripping completely.”

“So now they can basically arrest anyone.”

“They are just going to use this to arrest anyone they cannot get on the original charges.”

“If they actually enforced a law like this there would not be enough police.”

“The penalties are outrageously steep.”

“What will they do if sales do not increase? They were always blaming illegal downloads for everything.”

“They will just say even harsher laws are needed…”

“There is no way CD sales are going to increase because of this.”

“The ministry issuing statements as to how the law will actually be enforced has no actual ability to control what police and courts decide to do. In the end nobody knows how this will end up being applied.”

“Won’t this law only be a problem if copyright holders tattle on you to the cops?”

“It’s the type of crime which requires a complaint from the victim for police to prosecute, so if there is no report they may not be able to pursue an investigation [although they can ask the victim to prosecute if they catch someone in an unrelated search]. But that doesn’t mean they won’t try to make some examples.”

“They may as well just arrest the whole Internet.”

“Why don’t the bastards who wrote this law actually bother to explain it properly?”

“Great, now their sales will go through the roof! Japan’s content industries are saved!”

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    Comment by Anonymous
    00:07 02/10/2012 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Meanwhile, sales continue to plummet.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:52 02/10/2012 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    "We banned piracy but they still aren't buying our CDs!"

    "Then find something else to blame! Block YouTube from the Japanese internet! That'll fix it!"

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:12 02/10/2012 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    "...but why can't we just stream our own content, sir? And then maybe earn from advertising revenue and licensed goods?"

    "That's stupid. You're stupid. It's more effective to just sue Nico Nico Douga to the ground. Call our lawyers now!"

    Comment by Dark Mage
    03:32 02/10/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    They'll just drive users to other streaming services out side the country.
    What are they going to do fire wall the country off from the rest of the world yah that worked great for China.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:48 02/10/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    It's only a matter of time until they start blaming Koreans and Chinese for their lack of sales...

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:18 02/10/2012 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    If that happens, the will just install more DRM, of course.

    Comment by Dark Mage
    03:46 02/10/2012 # ! Quality (+0.8)

    And that DRM will be cracked in less then two weeks.

    Avatar of Aya Reiko
    Comment by Aya Reiko
    14:44 02/10/2012 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Or, more accurately, two weeks *before* release.

    Comment by Anonymous


    No, but stupidity seems to be local in your area. Am I right, old chap?

    Comment by Anonymous

    what, is sarcasm a foreign concept to you?

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:33 02/10/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    DAMN!!! What the fuck JAPAN!!! WHY!! Why do keep betraying me!

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:23 04/10/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    what a cd/dvd/blu-ray/cable o all that stuff i get off youtube

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:01 02/10/2012 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    They're either gonna have to police the internet or police the streets for men asking young girls for directions to the nearest mcdonalds.

    Can't have both, silly japan.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:57 02/10/2012 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    This is good news. So I guess I will again be able to ask girls for directions.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:58 02/10/2012 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    And their used pantsu.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:03 03/10/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    A not so modest question for a not so modest price (money for the girl, of course).

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:53 01/10/2012 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Japanese people don't deserve this, you can't expect them to pay 100$ for a fucking Bluray with 2 episodes.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:57 01/10/2012 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Oh Christ you just reminded me!
    They're unfairly shafted for content when compared with anywhere else outside of Japan. Their prices are insane too. This is basically suicide for the digital industry in Japan.

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:50 02/10/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    Why does everything in Japan always have to go through Harakiri...

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:54 06/10/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    because it's their racial feature-they like to die so much.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:10 02/10/2012 # ! Good (+0.9)

    People get the government they deserve.

    This law was passed, relatively unopposed. If the Japanese people don't fight laws that take away their rights and freedoms, they will be taken away by lobbyists for the music and movie industry. Just like america.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:49 02/10/2012 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    At least, RIAA and MPAA lost a game once when SOPA got thrown back to the Hell it came from. All it needed was for the public to threaten to pull their votes off the politicians.

    Comment by Dark Mage
    03:48 02/10/2012 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    I wrote my senator and told him I'd never vote for someone who backs SOPA.

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:12 02/10/2012 # ! Good (+0.6)

    Problem is, they can loose as many times as they want. There is no penalty for filing draconian laws. All they need to do is win once. Good luck getting rid of it once it's in effect.

    Avatar of Vincent Giannell
    Comment by Vincent Giannell
    14:41 02/10/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    They will get rid of this new law even if they are forced to by being threaten of loosing votes.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:05 03/10/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    The thing is, I wonder how much the record industries are paying these politicians off. What if they pay them enough money to where they don't even give a fuck about getting reelected or not? It's just a job. You got your money, someone else can go do it now.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:42 03/10/2012 # ! Good (+0.8)

    This law was passed without any public scrutiny at all. No one knew about it until it had been passed.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:34 02/10/2012 # ! Good (+0.6)

    But young people couldn't be bothered to vote in Japan.

    Reap what you fucking sow, Japanese bitches. It's like you just love getting repeatedly violated with a rusty pipe by the old relics from WWII still doing as they please with your country because you refuse to take responsibility. I hope you guys are happy now.

    自業自得だ。 ざまあ見ろ!

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:56 02/10/2012 # ! Good (+0.6)

    What young people? Their population is a triangle flipped on its head.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:45 02/10/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    Even if their population is filled with old people, it's not like young people don't exist lol.

    It's just that they're either too busy being quiet, or too busy prostituting themselves to protest this lol. It really is just reaping what they sow lol.


    Comment by Anonymous
    06:15 02/10/2012 # ! Good (+0.6)

    Japanese are lemmings, whom go as they're told.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:50 02/10/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Also they generalize everything!

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:07 02/10/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    That shit came with the Obama administration, and the Japanese government wants to suck up the U.S.!
    And then the U.S. government still has the courage to open his mouth to criticize communist countries and their dictators.
    As a law so vague can be applied?
    Simply give the cops in japan, an excuse to arrest anyone?!

    Comment by Anonymous
    14:41 03/10/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Well it's not like VP Biden said "That's what they pay me for". Oh wait he did say that.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:51 03/10/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    No, it didn't. That 'shit' came in with Bush's government and just stayed in Obama's because he didn't 'clean house' and was indebted to some of those same people that Bush was.

    Avatar of Mitchell
    Comment by Mitchell
    14:39 03/10/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Yeah most of what happened now in 2012 and 2011 was Bush's crap and Obama just keeps getting blamed for it. It takes around 2 turns in office to see if a president is good or not. I think he is doing a ok job.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:29 02/10/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    It's funny how all this fuss about piracy started and how many contries are affected because America insisted that other nations should bow down to it's legal matters and should follow in it's footsteps.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:26 02/10/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    In Japan might be worse than the US, because the Japanese population is composed mainly of close-minded old people. Even if all the young people would vote, they'd be outnumbered.
    This is the price to pay for not wanting to have kids.

    Avatar of George
    Comment by George
    02:02 02/10/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Right-wing nuts need something new to bash once in a while. China-bashing can only keep them angry for so long given their attention span.

    This is good, time they spent focused on other things will delay the inevitable anime ban.

    Also, need more tattoos to keep them riled.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:13 25/09/2017 # ! Neutral (0)

    America still hasnt arrested me for watching free movies online

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:31 03/10/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Japan just lays there and takes it up the ass. Their beaten obedient sex servants of fuckery, they don't stand up for shit!

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:32 02/10/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    just like everywhere...

    Comment by Anonymous

    I'm surprised you have the energy left to write this!

    Comment by Anonymous

    WRONG! I fuck every media lobbyist every single day!

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:29 02/10/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Well said.

    Comment by Anonymous

    C'mon guys, this one seems like it'll work this time...

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:33 02/10/2012 # ! Good (+0.8)

    Why the music industry (and the manga one since we're at that) doesn't stop whining and open a digital store is beyond me; I'm pretty sure they can device virtual tickets for the AK48 events or whatever, they're fucking Japanese they can make a potted plant float on air if they put their mind into it.

    Avatar of Miroku74
    Comment by Miroku74
    02:30 02/10/2012 # ! Good (+0.4)

    The industries' sales models are dinosaurs as far as marketing and product placement (shipping et al) is concerned.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:54 02/10/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    some may argue that they're $100 only because of ppl illegally distribute ect...

    but seriously, for ppl who actually think that 'majority' passes the laws. well, u are naive.

    businesses and individuals with money/power make up your society and decides how you live.

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:04 02/10/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    The prices were high before broadband internet access existed.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:49 02/10/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    They do. they voted those peoples into their parlament.

    Yea well.. And they will find out that it wont have any reasonable positive effect at all..

    So sad :(

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:00 02/10/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Anyone stupid enough to drop $100 for a 50cent disc with 2 episodes on it deserves to get ripped off.

    Avatar of anfuerudo
    Comment by anfuerudo

    Actually, you can.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:43 02/10/2012 # ! Drivel (-1.0)

    Anime is not bread and not is water. Price don't make stealing legit. Can't afford - go further. If price too high they have to lower it, so yes, i can expect.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:51 02/10/2012 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Good luck finding more than 1000 people to buy your shitty overpriced product. I'll bet you'll just continue to blame that on those evil, evil freeloading pirates. Scapegoats make the world go round.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:47 02/10/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    What do you guys think the elasticity of demand for anime is anyway?

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:15 02/10/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    So RIAJ and JASRAC are so desesperate that support this... strange Law.


    Come on pleople. Think about this:

    Why RIAJ or the Oricon had do NOTHING to regulate the tricky AKB48 CDs sales (one of the best selling physical product nowdays) so far? Because they are so desesperate that they have to support this "photo-handshake-tickets" CDs and say: "Look, Japanese music industry is in the rise"


    The same with this "anti-piracy" law. "Hey dont download singles, albums and DVD concerts. Buy it, buy it. We know you can do it"

    If we have a bunch of crazy Idol Otakus that buy 5,10,20 or more copies each f$%&/ing single the "authorities" of course think that people happily will buy physical products if they cant find them free in the net.

    Yes... this is Japan.

    That why a lot of people think that the japanes music indsutry is just a stinky corpse.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:47 02/10/2012 # ! Good (+0.7)

    You used Google Translate, didn't you?

    Which media agency are you affiliated with?

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:53 02/10/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    if you actually knew shit about business then you would know this, piracy barely affects sales of a product and there are some cases where piracy actually increases sales for certain products and if you werent so thick you would see that, what ultimately affects sales in a major way is pricing, distribution, awareness and quality, this stupid bad written law will not change shit.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:36 02/10/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    You do know a coin has 2 sides, right? For some media, piracy doesn't do anything, sometimes it even helps it grow. For others, it DOES put a dent in it, and sometimes pretty damn hard at that.

    It wouldn't be the first time that while one company grows because they got known out of piracy, another dies because of the piracy itself.

    Comment by Anonymous

    Where is the proof in any of that. Since the piracy existed in all of those situations where a product didn't sell well you have no way to determine what the quantity of the product sold would have been without the piracy. If you look at physical goods you would see that no matter how good the product is it always has the potential to fail so why would that be any different with non-physical goods.

    PS. Don't even talk about piracy rates since if it is free anyone will grab it even if they wouldn't if it was for sale. A good example of this is when I have seen restaurants do things where they give away free food and they will have huge lines of people and go through much more food then normal. They get many more people because it was free and even people who don't normally go to that restaurant will go because of that.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:59 02/10/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Anime is not bread and water. There is no obligation to buy it. If it is inaccessible via legal or quasi legal means, then people will just move on to other things. This law will not force downloaders to buy.

    And on the flip side, people who do buy anime goods by their own volition don't even need a law in place for them to buy.

    Comment by Anonymous

    Cool machine translation bro. Too bad Japan will never lower the price of anime, simply because it is too expensive. Japan does not work that way. Just ask any Japanese who has bought a Japanese camera abroad because they are cheaper abroad due to unfair "gentlemens agreements" between Japanese brands. Proof Japanese businessmen do not give a fuck about you, nor your problems. Now pay their overinflated price points and shut the fuck up. Stupid.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:34 03/10/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    I get Japanese DVDs for $10-$15 bucks from the MANUFACTURE.

    Shove it up your ass, cock-head! ME SAVE MOONIE AND GET GOOD ANIMES!

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