Reselling Game Keys Are Now Illegal in Japan

Japan has recently moved to implement new amendments to an existing law that will have a big effect the video game industry, with the most notable amendment enacting a ban on reselling software product keys.

A revision of the country’s Unfair Competition Act (via GameIndustry.biz) now includes new amendments that ban people from reselling their software product keys (which include video games) online without the creator’s permission.

These new restrictions appear to be the result of the Unfair Competition Act now recognizing data that is recorded in a electromagnetic record as a source in need of protection.

The amendments have also hit hard on modding programs that have the ability to alter save data, essentially banning both the tools needed to do so as well as the services that would be able to do it on the customer’s behalf. This would effectively ban save editing software such as Action Replay from being sold in Japan. CYBER Save Editor for the PS4, a similar save editing tool, has already been discontinued in Japan.

The act of reselling game keys has been a bit of a grey area in the video game market, but there’s little legislation that prevents it in the United States. The European Union Court of Justice ruled earlier this decade that consumers have the ability to resell downloaded games if they wished.

Companies in the US have focused more on clamping down on copyright infringement and hardware modification than modding software. Nintendo in particular has been aggressive in the last year targeting people who host their ROMs online, shutting down several long-running websites in the process.

Nintendo has also sued people accused of selling modified Nintendo Switch consoles, filing a lawsuit against a Orange County, California man last month over the act.

Failure to follow the new Unfair Competition Act rules could result in a ¥5 million fine, five years in prison, or both, according to official information found online.