Gary Flockhart: Tough for pirates of the music industry

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JAPAN is the world’s second largest music market after the US - but illegal downloads account for a staggering 90 per cent of the total.

That could be about to change after controversial laws punishing internet users who download pirated files with fines or jail terms came into force this week.

Under the new legislation, they could face up to two years in prison or a maximum fine of two million yen (about £15,900).

The strict laws come as a result of heavy lobbying by Japan’s recording industry.

A 2010 study of Japanese internet behaviour showed that 4.4 billion files were downloaded illegally that year, as opposed to the 440 million legal downloads.

Record companies are happy with the new ruling - but not everyone is.

Opponents have staged protests and carried out cyber-attacks, and a Japanese group of legal professionals stated that “property damage caused by individual illegal downloads by private individuals is highly insignificant.”

Presumably, the new law is meant to crack down on piracy by making an example of those who are caught and instilling fear into those thinking about illegally downloading.

It’ll be interesting to see how aggressively it is enforced.

Are we about to see folk getting banged up in a prison cell or heavily fined for copyright infringement? And will they serve as an example to persuade others that downloading isn’t worth the risk?

Problem is, there’s a whole generation of music lovers used to getting what they want for free. And to many young people it isn’t even considered a crime.

But there’s no future for bands or for music if people expect to receive it for free.