Japanese crack down on piracy

January 2005

Record Labels, Film

A Japanese man has received a suspended three year jail sentence for distributing films over the internet. Yoshihiro Inoue, 42, was found guilty of violating copyright law Tuesday in Kyoto District Court, a court official said on condition of anonymity. Kyodo News quoted presiding judge Yasuhide Narazaki as saying Inoue disregarded the efforts of copyright-holders, and his crime was a serious offense against the protection of intellectual property. Inoue was arrested in November last year on suspicion he placed Hollywood movies on the Internet to allow swapping of video files.
In a separate action Isamu Kaneko, who developed the free file-sharing software called Winny, is on trial in the same court. His verdict date has not been set. Kaneko, an instructor at the prestigious University of Tokyo, was arrested in May on charges of violating copyright laws. He was also accused of helping Inoue disseminate material on the Internet with Winny. Kaneko is the first file-sharing software developer arrested in Japan. His defence team says there are no laws against developing file-sharing software and say that arresting someone for designing software is a serious threat to personal liberty. They added that the action is making software developers in Japan nervous that new innovations may be declared illegal and incur legal liabilities and/or individual prosecutions. Kaneko’s has drawn widespread support from bloggers (who write internet journals) who have donated money to his defence fund. Kaneko was released on bail in June on a 5 million yen ($49,000) bond. Winny has become a major headache for digital content providers in Japan; the software claims that it protects users’ identities. The program allows users to trade files without revealing their Internet Protocol address – the online equivalent of a phone number. Violating copyright laws in Japan can bring up to three years in prison or a maximum fine of 3 million yen ($29,000). The Japanese action against Kaneko for developing the software comes at the same time as the Australian record industry brings legal action against Sharman who own Kazaa file sharing software.

Source: http://www.bizreport.com/news/8428/

For more information in this area and in particular the position and liability of those who provide software, equipment and services which could potentially facilitate peer to peer file swapping and illegal downloading and music, technology and copyright infringement in the digital age, see the article ‘Don’t Shoot The Messenger’ by Ben Challis at :www.musicjournal.org/03dontshootthemessenger.html

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