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2 Japanese Accused of Uploading 1,000s of Anime Episodes

posted on 2008-02-21 15:59 EST
Charges added for men arrested in January, along with malware creator

On Thursday, the Kyoto Prefectural Police's High-Tech Crime Task Force has added more charges to the two men accused of uploading anime videos without authorization onto the Winny file-sharing network in Japan. The two men are Shōji Sakai, a 39-year-old company employee from Sakai City in the central Japanese metropolitan area of Osaka, and Katsuhisa Ikema, a 35-year-old unemployed man from Amagasaki City in the nearby prefecture of Hyogo.

The police say that Sakai violated Japan's Copyright Law by uploading around 5,700 episodes from about 230 titles from the fall of 2003 until this past January. The authorities further allege that Ikema uploaded around 3,500 episodes from about 170 titles in the same timeframe. For example, the two are accused of uploading the second episode of the Kimikiss pure rouge anime series on October 14 of last year. According to an affidavit, the two are said to have performed these alleged actions because they "wanted to be appreciated [by the users.]"

The two men were arrested on January 24 along with Masato Nakatsuji, a 24-year-old Osaka Electro-Communication University graduate student from Izumisano City in Osaka. Nakatsuji is the first Japanese person charged with creating malicious computer software such a virus or Trojan horse (a malicious program that conceals its purpose from users). Nakatsuji is accused of uploading a Trojan horse with Clannad anime images under the same online pseudonym ("Trip") that Sakai and Ikema used. At least 5,500 computers were reportedly affected. Since there is no Japanese law that directly prohibits the creation of Trojan horses, Nakatsuji is being charged under Japan's Copyright Law. Nakatsuji was charged again on February 15 with defaming a 23-year-old fellow graduate student by including the 23-year-old's photograph, name, physical address, and other information in the Trojan horse.

The Winny peer-to-peer file-sharing software was developed in 2002 by a then anonymous computer engineering student. The software promised anonymity for its users, but the High-Tech Crime Task Force found flaws in its integrated forum feature. After two users were arrested for sharing copyrighted material using Winny in 2003, the developer was identified as Isamu Kaneko of the University of Tokyo and also arrested. He was convicted and sentenced with a 1.5-million-yen (about US$12,000) fine. During Kaneko's arrest and trial, another anonymous developer created a successor application called Share that uses Winny's file-sharing network. Since security researchers have also found flaws in Share in 2006, other successor applications are being developed.

Japan's Copyright Law prohibits unauthorized uploaders but expressly allows people to download for private use. The Japanese government is pushing a ban on unauthorized downloads as well, despite receiving thousands of messages from citizens opposing the ban.

Source: Kyoto Shimbun, Nikkan Sports, Jiji Press, Yomiuri

Image © 2006 Enterbrain, Inc./© 2007 Kimikiss Production Committee © Visual Art's/Key/Hikarizaka High School Drama Club


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