The Japanese government has complemented its already robust digital copyright laws with the unusual practice of hiding warning notices disguised as pirated content on popular domestic peer-to-peer networks.
The “copyright awareness” files contain a strongly-worded message designed to scare, shame and deter the reader into abandoning their anti-social ways.
The main part of the message has been translated by Japanese entertainment site RocketNews24 as follows:
"A Warning from the Organisation to Raise Awareness of Copyright. Files with the same name as this contain content which is in violation of copyright when distributed over P2P networks such as Winny or Share.
Knowingly downloading and of course uploading files that are protected by copyright law without the consent of the owner over the internet is illegal copyright infringement. Please stop immediately.
Also, from 1 October 2012, downloading content which is known to be available for sale is punishable by a maximum 2-year prison sentence and/or 2,000,000 yen [£13,770] fine.
Our copyright organisation is working to eliminate copyright infringement by file sharing software. In addition to consulting the police to obtain the disclosure of user’s identities, we want to focus on user education."
Operation Decoy File, which was dreamt up by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in conjunction with various film and music groups, will run until the middle of this month.
Japan's citizens are far from prolific pirates and the country already has some of the strictest penalties for online piracy on the planet, factors that might make the whole strategy seem unnecessary.
As mentioned in the statement above, Japan’s newly enacted laws could land illegal downloaders with two years in jail, while uploaders could face a whopping ten years and ¥10m (£69,000) fine.
That new legislation was enough to earn the ire of Anonymous, which launched its low orbit ION cannons at various government and political party web sites in retaliation. ®