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Marcin Wilkowski marcin w wilkowski.org
Wto, 26 Cze 2012, 14:05:03 CEST

Music industry wins a battle as antidownloading bill gets some teeth

Staff writer

A bill aimed at penalizing Internet users for downloading pirated
music and video files passed the Diet on Wednesday, despite criticism
from some Internet personalities and legal experts that the move is
hasty and too harsh.

The revision to the Copyright Law cleared the Education, Culture and
Science Committee of the House of Councilors on Wednesday morning and
was then approved by a 221-12 vote in an Upper House plenary session
that afternoon. 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

The bill was originally submitted by the education ministry earlier
this year, but it did not include provisions on penalties. A group of
lawmakers from the opposition Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito
then proposed inserting the penalty clause by submitting an amendment
to the bill. The revised bill cleared the House of Representatives and
was sent to the House of Councilors on Friday. The penalty clause will
go into effect on Oct. 1.

The nation's music industry has long lobbied for tougher action on
piracy, saying the acts have cost copyright holders a fortune. The
Recording Industry Association of Japan estimates 4.36 billion pirated
music files were downloaded in 2010, amounting to ¥668.3 billion in
lost revenue for the industry.

In the Upper House committee meeting on Tuesday, however, DPJ member
Yuko Mori said it's difficult for ordinary users to tell which files
are illegal and that the bill's vague wording of punishing "those who
are aware (of the illegality of downloading)" could lead to arbitrary
prosecution. "We shouldn't risk making the general public — including
youths — the subject of criminal investigations," she said.

Daisuke Tsuda, an IT and music journalist called in as an expert
witness, also expressed fears that the prosecution of pirated music
could eventually be extended to other materials such as games and
writings, hampering the public's access to information and the
long-term promotion of contents industries. He added that the
government should think of ways to better clamp down on uploaders, not

"There won't be illegal downloading without illegal uploading," he
said. "What's important is to turn off the tap. ... There are many
ways to improve the ways we clamp down on piracy. So why are we
turning to such a violent method?"


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