Illegal downloaders in Japan now face prison terms of up to two years and fines of nearly 2 million yen (U.S. $25,679 or £15,900) from today. The Japanese government says that the move is aimed to protect the film industry and stop falling music sales in the World's second largest music market, where record industry officials estimate only one in 10 downloads are legally purchased. The Recording Industry Association of Japan says the legal download music market shrank 16% in 2011, the second consecutive year of decline. The slide comes despite global sales of digital music increasing 8% last year to $5.2 billion, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and Japanese content owners hope the new regime will mirror the success of the ‘three strikes’ legislation introduced in South Korea which the IFPI says warns off 70% of infringers after the first notification, and France where according to the IFPI peer-2-peer piracy levels declined by 26% after the introduction of the law Hadopi. Illegally uploading copyright material in Japan carries a maximum 10 year prison sentence and 10 million yen fine. The Japanese legal profession had some concerns about the new penalties and had asked the government to leave the matter as a civil law rather than a criminal law matter, pointing out that downloads by individual's was 'insignificant' in terms of damage to rights owners.
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