This report was written by Kaori Minami for the 1709 blog:
An amendment to the Japanese Copyright Law was passed on 12 June 2009.
Although it covers various issues including the exploitation of orphan works, caching associated with search site services, and making available to the public for the welfare of the persons with visual or aural disabilities, the main feature may be the provision which makes downloading of sound or visual recordings of copyright digital contents illegal when the contents were uploaded illegally and the downloader knows it (Article 30-1-iii).
The above amendment is stipulated as an exception to the private use exception (Article 30-1). Therefore, the scope of the private use exception will become smaller.
When this issue was proposed in 2007, it induced massive public opposition. In response to this, the amendment is limited to the above scope and punitive clauses are not provided. Mere streaming of the illegally uploaded contents is considered to be outside of the scope of the above provision.
Some people are concerned that the new provision may have a negative impact on the use of legally uploaded copyright material. It is also pointed out that the amendment may not be used much as detecting a downloader is not easy. However, it appears that the new provision is generally welcomed because it protects legitimate on-line distribution services and may help the development of such businesses.
The amendment will become effective as of 1 January 2010.