Earlier this month, four separate bar owners were arrested for operating video game bars that allegedly break Japanese copyright laws. All four bars were suspected of allowing patrons to borrow various video games… which is a no-no in Japan, since they never got permission from the game creators.
This isn’t like loaning your Xbox games to your buddies when they come over for a drink. Once your business is based around the games, regulations are real, and penalties are serious.
The rules are simple: in Japan, you can’t profit off of some other company’s property without their permission.
These arrests are being dubbed the first of their kind.
The authorities have issued many warnings in the past about bars like this. Now it appears they are cracking down a bit more seriously. Say farewell to Amusement Bar Colorful and Game Bar Clantz (Kyoto), and Game Bar Fanati and Game Bar Equlit (Kobe). The owners of these bars apparently chose to ignore the warnings and continue their fraudulent business. Now, Japanese authorities have decided to make an example of them.
Just this past April, three different video game bars in Osaka were warned that they were breaking similar laws for letting bar patrons play games for free while still paying for drinks.
Once again, the operators had failed to get the permission of the copyright holders of the video games.
The owners of these bars were smart enough to just let their leases expire and close down their businesses before more drastic measures were taken.
With the increasing challenge of earning a profit on games, you should expect to see more cases like this in the future.