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3 Japanese Men Arrested, Charged with Uploading Anime

posted on 2008-01-24 05:35 EST
Xenoglossia, Gundam 00, virus with Clannad images allegedly distributed

Japan's Association of Copyright for Computer Software (ACCS) has announced that the Kyoto Prefectural Police's High-Tech Crime Task Force and officers from five police stations arrested three men on Thursday on charges of uploading anime episodes and images to the Winny file-sharing network. The authorities say the acts violated Japan's Copyright Law, which prohibits the unauthorized transmission of copyrighted material. The police also conducted a search of the suspects' homes.

The suspect known as "Male A" is a 39-year-old company employee who lives in Sakai City in the central Japanese metropolitan area of Osaka. The suspect known as "Male B" is a 35-year-old man (of unknown occupation) who lives in Amagasaki City in the nearby prefecture of Hyogo. The two are suspected of uploading episode 23 ("Run!") of Sunrise's Idolmaster Xenoglossia television anime series onto the Winny network on September 5, 2007. On October 14, the two are suspected of uploading uploading episode 2 ("Gundam Meister") of Sunrise's Mobile Suit Gundam 00 television anime series. J

The third suspect, "Male C," is a 24-year-old graduate student from Izumisano City in Osaka. The ACCS claims he created a computer virus that used still images from the Clannad television anime series and placed the virus with the images on the Winny network. According the police investigation, Male C admitted in an affidavit that he created the virus. Clannad is owned by Pony Canyon and three other companies. The Jiji news source reports that Male C is the first alleged virus creator that was exposed in Japan.

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. Ironically, Kaneko would then go on to co-develop SkeedCast, the program that is used by Gonzo and other companies for authorized file-sharing.

Trojan horses (potentially malicious programs that conceal their purpose from users) were reportedly distributed on the Winny network with a Kanon screensaver early last year. Three men were arrested last May for allegedly uploading manga from shōnen magazines onto Winny.

As it is currently written, Japan's Copyright Law only prohibits unauthorized uploaders. It expressly allows people to download for private use, which is why prosecutions in Japan have almost exclusively targeted unauthorized uploaders. The Japanese government is pushing a ban on unauthorized downloads as well, despite receiving thousands of messages from citizens opposing the ban.


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