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Japan outlaws the resale of game keys, rendering grey market sites illegal

Grey market key resellers have always proven divisive, coming under fire for their alleged role in depriving developers and publishers of sales. This is no longer a problem in Japan, as the country has opted to outright ban the resale of digital keys in their entirety.

Japan’s Unfair Competition Prevention Act finally recognises “data (information recorded in electromagnetic record),” implementing steps to protect digital information by law. These latest amendments particularly impact the gaming industry, prohibiting controversial sites like G2A and even the personal reselling of keys on eBay.

Since the text is only available in Japanese, translations provided by Google (via GamesIndustry.biz) state that it is split into three sections. Firstly “distributing tools and programs for altering save data” has been prohibited, followed by “reselling software product keys online without the creator's permission.” Lastly, “offering services that modify save data on the customer's behalf is no longer allowed by law.

While this sounds a lot like modding services such as Nexus, the target is more towards cheaters that modify files via services such as Cyber Save Editor for PlayStation 4. This product has since been discontinued in the country, and it surely won’t be alone.

Punishments for breaching this law can vary, with the translation stating that it depends on the case. This can range from claims for damages up to a staggering ¥5 million, up to five years in prison or a combination of the two should the crime fit.

KitGuru Says: Laws often don’t properly account for data, sitting vastly outdated in the digital age, so it’s great to see a country properly re-evaluate its stance. The question now, is whether Japan sets a good example to other countries. Do you think reselling keys should be against the law or do you embrace them?

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