Japan’s Online Copyright Law: Legal Summary

Picture of Japanese street to accompany a blog post about Japan's online copyright lawThis post is a summary of Japan’s online copyright law.

Add Japan to the list of countries with questionable online copyright laws. From now on, illegal downloaders risk a 2-year prison sentence or two-million yuen fine.

Japan’s Online Intellectual Property Law: A Brief History

Another Japanese online copyright law targets parties that upload protected material, unlike this latest law that focuses on downloaders. And it’s a hefty punishment; we’re talking a ten-year jail sentence or a fine up to ten million yuen awaits those who make illegal downloads available to others.

Japan’s Online Copyright Law: Supporters, Detractors, and Lobbyists

Japan’s new online copyright law comes after an aggressive lobbying campaign waged by the Recording Industry Association of Japan. The RIAJ contends that illegal downloads in Japan outnumber legal downloads by a factor or 10.


Record labels are pleased with the Japan’s online copyright law penalties. Chief executive of Sony Music Entertainment Japan explained earlier in the year, “This revision will reduce the spread of copyright infringement activities on the Internet.”


Who isn’t thrilled with the new Internet law? The Japan Federation of Bar Associations is wary of the statute’s criminal provisions. “Treating personal activities with criminal punishments must be done very cautiously, and the property damages caused by individual illegal downloads by private individuals,” the group argued, “is highly insignificant.”

Is Japan’s Online Copyright Law That Different Than Its U.S. Counterpart?

Japan’s piracy law is similar to U.S. online copyright laws, where statutory punishments range between $2,000 and $150,000. In most copyright troll lawsuits, though, alleged illegal downloaders usually receive settlement offers between $1,500 and $3,000.

Contact An Online Copyright Infringement Lawyer

Do you need an online copyright lawyer to help with an illegal downloading issue? Our attorneys help clients with everything from copyright troll threats to registration requirements to intellectual property litigation. Contact us to get started.

Trivia fun fact: Japan has the world’s second largest music industry after the United States.

Click here for more international Internet Law blog posts.

Contact An International Internet Lawyer »