Japan’s Association of Copyright for Computer Software is going after console modders in some recent revisions to the country’s Unfair Competition Prevention Law. According to Kotaku, modding game save data and game consoles in Japan is illegal and “punishable by up to five years in prison and fines up to 5 million yen ($46,000).”
While such a law would perhaps make sense as a way to curb the physical modification of consoles for the purpose of resale, the actual law takes it to a much more draconian extreme, making it illegal to “transfer” (as translated from the revision text) any tools or programs that can be used to mod save data, regardless of whether they are intended solely for personal use. As a result, many companies have stopped selling peripherals that allow players to edit their game data and “use cheats and patch codes,” such as Cyber Gadget’s Save Editor tool.
The revisions also make it illegal to sell unlicensed software serial codes or product keys. Though it’s unclear what exactly that entails, the wording of the revision seems to suggest that it would be illegal, for example, to purchase a game product key and then resell it online, as is fairly common practice here in the States (and dare we say, on the internet at large). It’s hard to say how strictly these laws are actually enforced, but it’s nevertheless concerning that Japanese gamers could face prison time and massive fines for modding their own game data.