Japan’s Brand New Anti-Piracy Law Goes Live: Here’s How it Will Work

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A few hours ago and after years of preparation, amendments to Japan's copyright law came into effect, aiming to criminalize those who download unlicensed manga, magazines, and academic texts from the Internet. So how will the new law work, who will it affect, and what kind of penalties should people expect?

In 2012, Japan passed legislation that made it illegal to download unlicensed movies and music from the Internet. The move, to criminalize these activities with a prison sentence of up to two years, was widely welcomed by copyright holders. However, for many others operating in less protected niches, the law didn’t go far enough. Wildly popular manga (local comics), magazines and other literary works (such as academic texts) were not covered by the law. It would take another eight years for legislation to catch up. In the summer and after years of work, Japan’s parliament passed new copyright amendments that bridged the gap. Punishments for the unlicensed downloading of manga, magazines and academic texts from the Internet were brought into line with the previously outlawed media categories, with violators facing a theoretical sentence of two years in prison or a fine of up to two million yen (US$19,366).