Though the practice has been against the law since 2010, until now, illegally downloading songs in Japan has not invoked penalties. Now, the hammer is coming down hard. Users that illegally download music in Japan could face up to two years in prison or fines of up to two million yen. Via BBC:

In theory the new download punishments can be enforced if a user is found to have copied a single pirated file.

The Recording Industry Association of Japan had pushed for the move, suggesting that illegal media downloads outnumbered legal ones by about a factor of 10.

The figure is based on a 2010 study which suggested that people in the country downloaded about 4.36 billion illegally pirated music and video files and 440 million purchased ones that year.

It added that the disparity was likely to have increased over the following months.

“This revision will reduce the spread of copyright infringement activities on the internet,” said the body’s chairman Naoki Kitagawa, who is also chief executive of Sony Music Entertainment Japan, earlier this year.

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