Winny File-Sharing Developer Isamu Kaneko Passes Away at 42

posted on 2013-07-11 03:18 EDT

Isamu Kaneko, the former University of Tokyo researcher who developed the file-sharing software Winny, passed away on Saturday, June 6 at 6:55 p.m. due to a heart attack. He was 42.

The Winny peer-to-peer file-sharing software was released 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, and he was also arrested in 2004. He was convicted and sentenced with a 1.5-million-yen (about US$12,000) fine in 2006. 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.

Kaneko eventually won a 2009 appeal, and the Osaka High Court overturned his conviction. 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.

At the time of his passing, Kaneko was working as the founder and chief innovation officer of the content distribution service Skeed, as well as a special instructor at the University of Tokyo's Information Technology Center.

Source: Nikkei's IT Pro via 0takomu

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