Japan has a tougher, tighter copyright law from this month. You’ll now face criminal penalties for illegally downloading copyrighted materials.
The punishment can be up to two years in prison or two million yen in fines. Until now, both uploading and downloading was illegal under the law, but in practice only uploaders were penalized. Not anymore. And it won’t matter if the material was uploaded in Japan or abroad.
But there’s a twist. The law states that violators must be aware that the materials were illegally uploaded. How do you prove that? That’s not clear yet. And there’s widespread concern that the vagueness of the criteria could lead to unfair arrests or prosecutions.
Under the new law, you’ll need to be more careful what you watch or download on your PCs and smartphones. But before you get too worried, I don’t expect police to detect very small downloads, and you won’t get into trouble for streaming music or movies on websites like YouTube.