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Japan Makes Unauthorized Downloading a Criminal Offense

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Japan has approved an amendment to its Copyright Law that allows the authorities to jail Internet users for simply downloading copyright works without permission.

Uploading was already illegal in Japan and carries a potential 10 year sentence, but downloading was previously viewed as a minor offense.

However, experts are now warning that the scope of the amendment has the potential to draw in people who simply watch copyright infringing content on YouTube.

Adding to the outrage among citizens is that the amendment was passed by Japan’s House of Representatives without any deliberations on the criminal element. It has now been passed to the House of Councillors.

According Japanese news reports, the amendment – which takes effect October 1 – allows for serious punishments. Knowingly downloading copyright infringing material can result in a two year jail sentence or a fine of 2 million yen (around $25,000).

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