Japan targets illegal downloads with piracy penalties

New penalties have been introduced to hit downloaders of copyright infringing files, who face up to two years in prison or fines up to nearly US$25,700.

Internet users in Japan who illegally download copyright content will face new penalties after a change to the law. They will now face up to two years in jail or up fines to two million yen (US$25,700).

Such activity has been illegal since 2010, but until now had not invoked any penalities, according to a report Sunday by BBC News.

The news agency pointed out this followed a lobbying campaign by the Recording Industry Association of Japan, which had suggested illegal media downloads outnumbered legal ones by about a factor of 10.

Currently, uploaders of copyright infringing music and videos face a maximum penalty of a 10-year prison sentence and a 10 million yen fine (US$128, 318), said BBC news.

Japan's move is the latest in a wider international crackdown on online piracy, following enforcement action such as the United States clampdown on storage service Megaupload and the arrest of members behind the Pirate Bay torrent service .