Japan now requires creator's permission to resell digital game keys

Mod service and tool creators, digital key resellers, and others will be impacted by an amendment to the Unfair Competition Prevention Act in Japan.

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A major shift in the gaming landscape is underway in Japan. In December, a legal amendment was added to the Unfair Competition Prevention Act to make "data (information recorded in electromagnetic record)" as an item protected by law. The full scope of this change won't be understood for a long while, as different cases from here on will continue to shape the legal precedent it sets, but there are significant immediate impacts in the gaming industry.

japanese japan resell digital key software banned unfair competition prevention act legal

Gamasutra reported that not only will this impact digital key reselling, something that extends well beyond gaming as well, the amendments target mod tools and services. Various translations of the amendments result in three specific practices that are now banned:

  • Distribution of tools and programs for modifying game saves
  • Selling product keys and serials online without the software maker's permission
  • Game save and console modding services

The publication also shares that punishments range from claims for damages all the way to fines of up to $46,000 and/or at least five years in prison. Along with mod services, websites that facilitate game key resells will be under a microscope. That's not to say they weren't before, but there's officially legal language that developers and publishers can lean on. This is in Japan for now, but could spread out in to other territories. A situation like CD Projekt Red's dispute with Green Man Gaming in 2015 serves an example of something that will be influenced by similar amendments. Sony entered into a partnership with Green Man Gaming in 2016. Similar deals will likely have to be negotiated if key resellers plan to survive this change.

japanese japan resell digital key software banned unfair competition prevention act legal

Cyber Gadget is a Japanese site that has a PS4 save data service and it has been discountinued as a result of the amendment to the Unfair Competition Prevention Act and more establishments will be making similar moves in the near future. Stay tuned to Shacknews for any additional updates as this story evolves.

News Editor

Charles Singletary Jr keeps the updates flowing as the News Editor, breaking stories while investigating the biggest topics in gaming and technology. He's pretty active on Twitter, so feel free to reach out to him @The_CSJR. Got a hot tip? Email him at Charles.Singletary@Shacknews.com.

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  • reply
    January 4, 2019 11:50 AM

    Charles Singletary Jr posted a new article, Japan now requires creator's permission to resell digital game keys

    • reply
      January 4, 2019 12:02 PM

      I'm guessing Nintendo and Sony have pretty strong lobbying efforts in Japan?

      • reply
        January 4, 2019 12:37 PM

        Companies own Japan basically.

        • reply
          January 4, 2019 12:39 PM

          For one, it's been made illegal there to sell programs to edit save files. Save fucking files.

    • reply
      January 4, 2019 12:39 PM

      This is probably going to have some hilariously unintentional side-effects. One could argue that PCs qualify if the wording is vague enough, and it sounds pretty vague.

      Super dumb.