Illegal downloads reading and discussion



Arguments for large fines for illegally downloading music

Arguments against illegally downloading music
























Try to predict the answers to these questions:

What is the punishment for downloading illegally according to Japanese law?


Why did the government increase the punishments?


How much illegal downloading do you need to do to be punished?


Who supported the increased punishments?


Who was against the increased punishments?


What did those people do to protest?


Who do they think should be punished instead?


What punishments have happened outside Japan?


Are there countries which have rejected stronger punishments for illegal downloads?


Read the text and check your answers:
Discussion Questions

1.     Is the punishment for downloading illegally in Japanese law fair? How about after only one illegal download? If not, what other punishments could there be and after how many downloads?

2.     Was the government right to increase the punishments?

3.     What do you think about the protests against the increased punishments? Can you think of any other ways of protesting?

4.     Are the recording industry right to be worried about illegal downloads? Is there anything positive about it for them? Are there any different ways that they could react?

5.     What are your own experiences of downloading music online? How do you feel about those downloads now?

6.     How would you feel and what would you do if you were one of these people?

       A record company executive

       A musician whose copyrighted music was being illegally downloaded

       An internet user who had been warned not to do more illegal downloading by their government

       An internet user who had been warned not to do more illegal downloading by their internet company

       An internet user whose internet had been cut off by the internet company due to illegal downloads

       An internet user who had been arrested for a single illegal download

       A police officer who is in charge of catching and charging illegal downloaders

       A businessman who wants to solve the illegal downloading problem and make money out of the solution

What punishments, if any, should there be for breaking copyright in these ways? (All of them are illegal in at least one country).

Buying pirate DVDs

Creating file sharing software which could be used to share illegal copies of music etc

Downloading file sharing software which could be used to share illegal copies of music etc

Emailing a copyrighted music track to a friend

Illegally downloading copies of books (PDFs or e-books)

Linking from your website or blog to illegal downloads

Make a CD copy of mp3s on your computer for a friend

Performing a copyrighted song without permission

Photocopying pages of books for use in class

Photocopying whole books

Playing a song in your café or restaurant without permission

Posting a copyrighted video on YouTube etc without permission

Publishing and selling fan fiction (e.g. your own novel including the characters from Harry Potter)

Publishing photos of people without their permission

Putting the lyrics of a copyrighted song on your blog or website

Reading a whole book in a bookshop

Recording from the radio

Republishing a newspaper article on your website or blog without permission

Sampling from a copyrighted song in your song without permission

Selling pirate DVDs

Staging a play without permission to use the script

Using other people’s photos in your book, website, blog or magazine article without permission

Videoing a movie in the cinema

Rank the things above by how serious they are.


How many different ways are there of getting access to these things?

Books (and parts of them)





Newspapers and magazines (and articles from them)










Lyrics of songs










TV programmes





Software (including operating systems and computer games)





Pictures (photos etc, e.g. to use in your PowerPoint presentation)





Which of those things are illegal?


Which things should be?


PDF for easy saving and printing: illegal downloading reading discussion

Related pages

Crime page

Legal English page

Reading page

1 Response to Illegal downloads reading and discussion

  1. alexcase says:

    Many thanks to the teacher in my school who shared the idea of using this BBC article – I forget who, sorry!

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