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Winny developer found guilty December 13, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in crime, Internet, IT, Japan, law.
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Isamu Kaneko, the developer who created Winny, the Japanese P2P file swapping application, has been found guilty of aiding and abetting violations of the copyright act, and fined JPY1.5M (a little over $10k). He says he will be appealing.

Given that Ikeda was a public critic of the current system of copyright, and that he is said to have stated that something needed to be done to bring the copyright system down, this appears to be a major motivation in the development of the anonymous P2P application. Mens rea would appear to be obvious if he did indeed make statements to this effect in the period leading up to and during the development of the application.
If Ikeda had stated that the software was intended to provide anonymity to its users to protect freedom of speech, the prosecution would have had a much more difficult case to prove.

I cannot agree with software industry supporters of Ikeda who are claiming this ruling will stifle software innovation in Japan. They are claiming this ruling will lead to talent fleeing offshore. (I think they’ll find that the long arm of the Japanese law provides for jurisdiction over criminal acts committed overseas by Japanese nationals anyway, so unless people want to live in self-imposed exile overseas, moving overseas temporarily to commit criminal offenses isn’t going to work – additionally, the statute of limitations is suspended when the fugitive is out of the country, so it isn’t a matter of waiting until the statute of limitations expires)

P2P technologies and anonymization technologies are not illegal per se, and this current ruling does not change the situation at all. I wish the public discussion concentrated on the crux of the case which revolves around the intent behind the development of the application, which in this case seems fairly clear.
The fact that many of the public comments made by figures associated with the software industry gloss over the crux of the issue and try to argue over peripheral or general issues seems to indicate a lack of understanding or a deliberate attempt at clouding the issue.

Comments»

1. Telyas - December 13, 2006

The claims are that WInny follows the protocol of the Freenet, which according to Wikipedia: “Freenet is a decentralized censorship-resistant peer-to-peer distributed data store aiming to provide electronic freedom of speech through strong anonymity.”
I have to support the published goal of the freenet project.

There is no doubt in mind that the intent of most P2P technologies is to break copyright laws, and as such should be condemned.
(Maybe there should be a link here to Youtube success based on exactly the same thing, Copyright infringement).


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