Japan outlaws resale of unauthorised game keys

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Japan has made the resale of unauthorised game keys illegal.

The new legislation, set out here in Japanese, means that three games-related practices are now illegal in Japan. Namely distributing tools and programs that can be used to alter save data; selling serial numbers or product keys that are unauthorised by the maker of the software; and offering services that allow save data to be modified.

The new laws reflect an update of Japan’s Unfair Competition Prevention Act, taking into account what the act describes as: “Data (information recorded in electromagnetic record).” They are clearly aimed at the modding scene, and curbing distribution of cheat codes and the like – for example, it means that purchasing products like Cyber Save Editor is now illegal in Japan.

Potential sentences for falling foul of the new law range from claims for damages up to fines of 5 million yen or up to five years’ imprisonment. Currently, no legislation exists in Europe criminalising key reselling. If any were to be proposed, it would trigger outrage among the modding scene.

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Steve Boxer
Steve Boxer has been writing about videogames since the early 1990s. His first console was an Atari VCS, and he misspent most of his youth in the 1980s in the arcades. As well as for Green Man Gaming, he can be found writing for The Guardian, Empire, TechRadar and Pocket-Lint. He’s currently having trouble deciding whether his favourite console is his Xbox One X or his Switch, and plays a wide range of games, but especially RPGs (he loves a good JRPG) action-adventure titles, shooters of all descriptions and driving games. Follow him here.