It’s been almost one full year since Japan criminalized the act of downloading copyrighted material from the Internet. NHK looked at what has changed since October 1st, 2012, and it doesn’t look like anyone is reaping any rewards so far.
First, the obvious occurred: fewer people are using peer-to-peer file sharing software now. NHK reports that P2P users are down 40% this year vs last year.
However, the copyright holders got the government to pass that legislation in the hopes that more people would buy music, movies, etc, but there’s no evidence that’s happening.
NHK’s numbers are confusing here, but here they are: between October 2012 and June 2013, CD/DVD sales were up 5% over the same period a year earlier. BUT 2013 sales overall (through August) are down 7% compared to 2012.
One definite piece of bad news for the media companies: digital sales of music are way down, 24% lower between October 2012 and June 2013 than the previous year.
Kenji Takasugi, managing director of the Recording Industry Association of Japan, claims that rentals are up (neither he nor NHK supports this with figures) but even he admits that no one’s buying music like they used to. Remember that whenever you read stories about the success of AKB48: those insane sales figures are driven by fans buying CDs by the caseload for the giveaways inside, then throwing the discs away.
While I’m sure the loathsome creator/owner of the AKB franchise is laughing all the way to the bank, everyone else in Japan is wondering how to get people to spend money on music. And so far, “punish people who download it” isn’t the answer they hoped for.
My crazy, crazy suggestion: find a way to sell CDs for less than $15 and movies for less than $20, because your plan thus far of doubling (or even TRIPLING) those prices hasn’t paid off.