Winny File-Sharing Software Developer Kaneko Acquited

posted on 2009-10-08 23:53 EDT
High court throws out Isamu Kaneko's 2006 copyright infringement conviction

Isamu Kaneko, the 39-year-old developer of the Winny peer-to-peer file-sharing software, has won an appeal that overturned his conviction for creating Winny on Thursday. The Osaka High Court overturned Kaneko's 2006 conviction, in which the Kyoto District Court had ruled that he distributed software that he knew would be widely used for illegal purposes. However, Osaka High Court Chief Judge Masazo Ogura said that Kaneko did not encourage people to use Winny for illegally distributing copyrighted material. Kaneko's defense had argued that technological development would be hampered if programmers were held responsible for the actions of their software's users. His legal defense was supported by donations.

The Winny peer-to-peer file-sharing software was developed in 2002 by a then anonymous computer engineering research assistant known as "47-shi" ("Mr. 47"). 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 Kaneko of the University of Tokyo and was 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.

Source: Gigazine, AFP

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