Well, it’s been three months since Japan’s own version of SOPA was passed. So, how many music, video and game pirates were carted off to the slammer to face justice?
For those unfamiliar or cannot be bothered to research: in October, the copying of copy-protected and encoded materials, the sale of software and hardware that circumvents copy or access protection, and the intentional download of illegally uploaded materials were deemed illegal and punishable by prison time and/or a fine in Japan.
The law in question is written in such a way as to be vague and open-ended, allowing for potential abuse by any authority who wishes to. Even video streaming sites like YouTube and Nico Nico Douga could fall under the law’s definition of “illegal download” (although authorities later stated that they would not). So, how has the island country suffered under this new tyrannical rule?
In a word: none. As of January 9, no cases have been reported of anyone being arrested or tried under the new law.
With this new legal power and increased speculation that illegal piracy of music, video and game content is destroying the respective industries, it was thought that an increased crackdown would commence at the strike of midnight on September 30th. This turns out not to be the case. Some have speculated that the difficulty in determining the specifics of piracy and the variations in individual cases as well as the unclear parameters of punishment is making copyright owners hesitant to act rashly.
While some pirate sites have shut down or ceased activity since October, many still remain active. It could be that the vagueness of the law may have actually ended up hamstringing its application.
While not yet put into action, the law still exists and its effects are still valid, causing much nervousness both for informed pirates and people worried about their personal rights alike.