Japanese Court Decides That Making Software That's Used For Some Illegal Things Is Illegal

from the take-that dept

Japan is going through its own sort of Napster/Grokster legal fight these days, with the creator of the popular Winny file sharing program being found guilty of helping violate copyright laws. The court decided on a relatively small fine and no jail time for the developer. However, as with the big cases in the US, the developer and his lawyers are pointing out that all this guy developed was a tool -- and making the creator of the tool liable, rather than those who do illegal things with the tool, is incredibly risky. Many seem quite worried that this will slow down innovation in Japan, as developers now have a new liability they need to be worried about in developing new technologies. If their technology can be used illegally, they may potentially be found liable as well -- and that can be a huge problem. There is one aspect of this case that's a little different however, in that much of the attention around Winny hasn't always been due to copyright infringement of music files, but of people who use it accidentally exposing confidential information that was stored elsewhere on their computers -- including Japan's nuclear secrets and medical records. Some say that the police only became concerned about the issue of Winny when private police information was leaked using the program as well.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Chris, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 12:29pm

    It's a smaller number

    Since there are fewer creators than there are users, it makes it easier for someone to prosecute the creator of a program that can do illegal things and not the operator

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Bumbling old fool, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 12:35pm

    Create This!

    I will set them back many years by using a blacksmith hammer to break a window.

    It's not my fault I broke the window, it was the fault fo the guy who made the hammer!

    There! That's better, now the japanese cannot make steel anymore, and as such, industry cannot exist, and they are back to their imperial times.... but slightly more peaceful as their martial arts have no weapons...

    yeah... or not.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Joshua, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Create This!

    Exactly. A ruling that makes you responsible for the use of your creation make quite a few things illegal to make.

    Guns, for instance, become insanely dangerous for the manufacturer since it is likely that on of their products will be used to commit murder. Sleeping pills are favorites of suicidal people, the makers would be responsible for enabling them (suicide is a crime IIRC). This ruling is both silly and extremely dangerous.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Jesse, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 1:50pm

    Is my computer illigeal

    If I have a file sharing progam that is considered illegal because it allows me do something illegal is my OS illegal for letting me run the application that is considered illegal.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Jesse, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 1:50pm

    Is my computer illigeal

    If I have a file sharing progam that is considered illegal because it allows me do something illegal is my OS illegal for letting me run the application that is considered illegal.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 1:52pm

    So if you can use Cars to do illegal things, should the car manufactures be brought up on charges ?

     

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  7.  
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    Hyrulio, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 1:53pm

    Tut Tut

    I couldnt agree more...
    Trace the problem back a bit;
    - Someone downloads a copyright protected file
    - They used a program that made
    - John used another program to write his
    - This program was made by a company
    - The company used computers to make their software

    So we can all blame Bill Gates for copyright fraud.... not likely... thought he COULD foot the bill...

    Anyway... don't we have more impotant things going on in the world to worry about, rather than how much money the already-rich people arn't getting?

     

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  8.  
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    justin, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 1:53pm

    Japan = some freakin hot women (some not so much) and stupid laws.

    Don't blame the dev's ... I don't want to pay for software-creation insurance, my health and car is more then enough ...

    my message to japan, send over the hot chicks, leave the devs alone!

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 1:55pm

    what has to happen

    is that someone needs to call these people out publicly and humiliate them on making such a stupid decision. and i don't mean publicly as in on a forum somewhere. it has to be done in a way that the judge hears it as does a lot of important people.

    people are ignorant to how stupid their decisions are because no one tells them how stupid they are. we just keep telling each other.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 1:58pm

    FTP Software

    So no creation of FTP software I take it ?
    After all you could download illegal files with it.

     

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  11.  
    icon
    CHL instructor (profile), Dec 14th, 2006 @ 1:59pm

    Re: Re: Create This!

    Forget guns and knives. Since cars can be (and are!) used in the commission of many types of crimes (many of which would be much harder to commit without one!), it's obvious that we need to make the manufacture of automobiles illegal... (Liberal Logic)

    The Japanese legal system has just (potentially) economically crippled their country. They already have a problem with innovation in product development, just from their anal-retentive authoritarian culture. Now, if only the Chinese could be persuaded to commit the same error...
    --
    Texas Concealed Handgun License Training

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Hook-nose Harry, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 2:12pm

    all software is illegal

    I use Excel to track my bookmaking and extortion rackets. I use Word to write pornographic movie scripts. I edit the porn movies on my computer and distribute them using Outlook. I also edit porn pics with Photoshop.

    Almost any software you can name can be used for illegal purposes.

     

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  13.  
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    Andrew, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 2:13pm

    Illigal things

    So...if I buy bad drugs with money...does that make the Mint responsible for creating the way for me to buy the drugs in the first place? or put the Government at fault because it gives us the Mints?

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 2:24pm

    lame

    thats a shame, why dont we sue MS for allowing piracy? or the internet companies for allowing it to be transmitted?

    furthermore why dont we sue gun companies everytime someone gets shot..

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    misanthropic humanist, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 2:31pm

    the hidden story (my guess)

    Read between the lines peeps. It comes over even in Mikes brief summary.

    "Japan is going through its own sort of Napster/Grokster legal fight these days,"

    The anti-sharing farce (sponsored and abetted by you know who) has moved to Japan now. You'll find the same bunch of jokers behind it all. Same as the pressure that was being put on Sweeden, Germany etc. You know who's responsible, sorry my American and Jewish friends - no offense, but it's the same crock of shyster lawyers somewhere in NYC running this show.

    "being found guilty of helping violate copyright laws."

    Helping. Notice there was no conviction for "violating copyright laws". My guess is that this would still have to proved on a case by case basis and no precedent is set. Anyone understand Japanese law here?


    "The court decided on a relatively small fine and no jail time for the developer."

    Because they think it's a bunch of crap too and this is the smallest penalty they could hand out while quenching their masters thirst for blood.

    "Many seem quite worried that this will slow down innovation in Japan"

    The industrialists are pissed off. Watch for a quiet revesal soon. Japan has a very varied portfolio of industry unlike some places here in Europe and the USA that have no tangible/physical industry and kowtow the copyright lobby. These guys are going to stomp on it bigtime if it threatens their gadget making businesses.

    "the police only became concerned about the issue of Winny when private police information was leaked using the program as well."

    Professional or social embarrassment is the worst thing that can befall a Japanese man, at least in the traditional cultural cliche, and someone has to pay for it if only to distract from the show.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    jd, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 2:45pm

    Slow down people...

    Don't try to make MS accountable, because they are already trying like the devil to make it impossible to own ANY content for which they don't manage the digital rights. Too bad they just can't get DRM right... darn, I sure hate that! Kinda reminds me of the old days where the mob charged store owners a fee for protection - MS is the mob of today!

    Microsoft sure seems to be making great strides in ensuring that I am unable to reinstall their operating system using the disc that allegedly came with my computer, but always comes up missing. I think this is a growing conspiracy with "it should have been included in the box." What is up? Is it because it is too expensive to pay microsoft to print those fancy license stickers or whatever is the source of this growing epidemic and OEM can't seem to keep up with copying discs and paying MS the correct amount of license fees?? The only solution, as I see it, is to comply... send more money. Resistance is futile.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Bumbling old fool, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 3:06pm

    Re: all software is illegal

    You appear to be under some sort of delusonal impression that porn is illegal...

    You are quite confused.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Kyle, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 3:30pm

    So the Internet is illegal?

    The Internet is a tool that many use to do illegal things so by that ruling the Internet is illegal and must be stopped!

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 3:34pm

    porn in Japan

    all porn in Japan must be censored...perhaps that is what he is talking about?

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 3:43pm

    Better Sue Sony for all those "illeagal" DVD burners they make seeing thaey assist in copyright infringement .

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 3:44pm

    Re: It's a smaller number

    How overwhelmingly retarded that uninsightful comment was. I think everyone who reads it will leave just a little bit dumber. Thanks so much for your contribution to the ever increasing stupidity of the human race.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Stu, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 3:52pm

    MISANTHROPIC HUMANIST SAID,

    "You know who's responsible, sorry my American and Jewish friends - no offense, but it's the same crock of shyster lawyers somewhere in NYC running this show."

    Not liking America or some American person is your right.
    Not liking some Jewish person is your right.
    Not liking a person from New York City is your right.
    Not liking some lawyer is your right.

    It is when you attribute some societal ill to broad groups of people, that you show your bigotry - and let there be no doubt - your own bigotry is what you plainly expressed.

    Oh those Americans / Jews / New Yorkers / Lawyers - they're all the same. They cause all the problems.

    You can say "sorry" "no offense" all you want; but it's just an admission that you know full well that you are being offensive.

    I would greatly appreciate your keeping your disgusting bigotry off this forum.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    cwg, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 4:46pm

    Product Libility

    when Sara brady tried to sue Colt mfg. ther were laws HERE in thre USA very similar that allowed her to do just that. The way I see it TOmas Jefferson was right
    " Shoot all the lawyeraq and start over"

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    misanthropic humanist, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 5:14pm

    Re:

    Well Stu, I'm equally offended by your shallow reaction so we're quits now. Not only do I have the right to hold those beliefs but I have the right to express them too. As it happens everything you listed there is false, In fact if you're suggesting any of those things are true about me, well that would be slanderous would it not?

    The one you nearly got right is number 4, except that I don't like ALL lawyers, not merely some.

    Now since I specifically went out of my way to indicate that no racial, geographical or religious slur was intended, I expect that's why you picked up on it isn't it? Saying that I intend no offense is a sincere remark to prempt precisely the kind of reactionary hysterics your putting on now. But you're playing right up to it. Interestingly you didn't even pick up on the offensive word there did you? Do you know what shyster means? Didn't think so. So kindly shut your cake hole
    if you've nothing to add to the debate but ad hominem attacks dressed up as fake outrage.

    And last time I checked - I still admire America, I love New York and I live in a street where they wear big hats and say hello in the morning. That doesn't change the basic facts that a Jewish law firm based in NYC are the cunts behind the disgraceful and amoral behaviour of which I speak, and I've no qualms about saying it like it is. Get it? Got it? Good.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 5:50pm

    well what about car makers ???

    more killing was done then ever on the roads by cars, so , jail car makers for part in murder better, what about that ?

    then sue state for puting up roads cars used to speed up, and not for the last, that driving instructors that approved that person can drive car

    should we keep on seeing that, ok, we had a leak on our private system , cose idiot used file share programs on private/gov system, or sue the maker of program, take more money from an inventor, etc...

    yeah we know, blame all, blame me, then sue me, but guess what, i'm jewish, not from new york , and i'll still get clean :)

    are u suffering yet ?

    shearing music and films didn't kill no-one !!!

    why don't u guys overthere in politics put that finger down from this and try to better get off that gass pedal, take a walk, jump from a bridge or something usefull, like stoping some stupid war u fueled in midle east, africa, etc...

    yeah we know who's made u there, and what money...

    2 dimes here, rest stays with me !

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    jim wight, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 6:10pm

    jim wight I fall deepr in love w/ you each day we're apart

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Male Chauvinist Pig, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 7:18pm

    RE: by Stu on Dec 14th, 2006 @ 3:52pm

    Calling out the Riaa and the Mpaa has nothing to do with bigotry. Well, what society calls bigotry anyhow. Unless calling an organization names is considered bigotry? Ever wonder where the word bigotry comes from?

    [ The origin of the word in English dates back to at least 1598, via Middle French, and started with the sense of "religious hypocrite", especially a woman.]*

    Lying, gossiping women were the first bigots but saying that makes me a Male Chauvinist Pig.

    [ The word "chauvinist" was originally used to describe someone who has a fanatical loyalty in one's country. The word was later applied by the "women's liberation movement" in the 1960s and used to describe men who uphold the belief of female inferiority. The slur "male chauvinist pig" has been reclaimed by some men as a jocular personal rebuttal or tolerance of such accusations.]*

    So, to you Stu, I say keep to what you know. Do not assume something is what it seems. Sarcasm and plain stupidity are the meaning of most posts and since yours wasn't the former, I guess it was the latter. I am hoping this post is finally seeming like one of the former... though it will more than likely be assigned to the group of the latter as well.

    * {Parts of this post pulled from Wikipedia so that the poster may seem more intelligent than he or she actually is. This post is meant to be sarcasm, in a sense.}

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Male Chauvinist Pig, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 7:31pm

    No, on topic...

    The **AA's have money, lots and lots of money. Since money makes the world go round, or so the saying goes, they throw their money at the lawmakers to get changes made they want made. Anyone surprised by this ruling doesn't normally read TechDirt as Mike has pointed to many cases of the **AA's influencing the world through money and litigation. This particular case doesn't have an obvious influence from one of the **AA's but you can bet they had their finger in it somewhere. No judge would rule that a tool maker/designer is responsible for how other people use his tools unless someone is paying and/or pressuring him to...

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    benji, Dec 14th, 2006 @ 9:50pm

    Re: It's a smaller number

    Exactly..which is why they should target the developers...you can stop a couple hundred people..but there will still be another hundred people downloading the program...instead...go for the main source...stop the problem at its roots...

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    KloroFormd, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 12:19am

    This is stupid...

    With that logic, they should go after Microsoft or any other operating system/computer manufacturer. The computers let people do the illegal things. Oh and cell phone companies. People can steal your credit card info with those...

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    PT, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 12:51am

    Re: Re: Re: Create This!

    Could you please elaborate on this "authoritarian culture" the Japanese have?

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    PT, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 1:05am

    Re: Re:

    Not to add more fuel to the fire, but was it necessary to point out the religious affiliation of said law firm? Unless the implication is that Judaism somehow is related to their nefarious (the law firm's) actions which I'm am certain that is not what you are implying. Juuuuust curious.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    misanthropic humanist, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 9:56am

    Re: Re: Re: by PT

    No, PT it was not. And it has no relevance. But it was necessary to
    contextualise "Shyster" , a word I picked up from jewish friends of mine incidentally, which basically means a mercenary and conman and is often used in the description of lawyers who will either take on any case regardless of its ethics, or worse still, play off clients against one another to cheat them of their money. Which is all lawyers in my opinion. At least that's how he explained it to me.

    Having said that, the little outburst by Stu, which is no more than bullying through victimology is precisely the behaviour that creates and sustains prejudices in the first place .. "Oh I'm a poor American everybody hates me!", "Oh I'm a poor Jew, everybody hates me!", "Oh I'm a poor Arab, everybody hates me!". Whatever your creed or culture it's just a lame way of either sidestepping any real engagement, or acting like a cheap attention whore.

    And there's where the irony comes full circle - I have to qualify remarks that *might* cause offence precisely because cocks like Stu
    deliberately play on it. I see right through it and I don't stand for it.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    YouKnowNothing, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 10:31am

    Re: Re: It's a smaller number

    Yep, great logic there. Yessiree, good thinkin', by crackee!

    While they're at it, there are only a few gun makers in the country, but hundreds of thousands of criminals who use guns to commit crimes. The gubmint should shut down all those gunmakers, because there are fewer of them than criminals who use guns, and then fine and imprison the gunmakers because their guns were used to commit crimes. Nevermind the hundreds of thousands of hunters, sport shooters, and homeowners, they won't miss their guns...

    While they're at it, there are only a few knife makers in the country, but hundreds of thousands of criminals who use knives to commit crimes. The gubmint should shut down all those knifemakers, because there are fewer of them than criminals who use knives, and then fine and imprison the knife makers because their knives were used to commit crimes. Nevermind the hundreds of thousands of hunters, campers, carpenters, and homeowners, they won't miss their knives...

    While they're at it, there are only a few car makers in the country, but hundreds of thousands of criminals who use cars to commit crimes. The gubmint should shut down all those carmakers, because there are fewer of them than criminals who use cars, and then fine and imprison the carmakers because their cars were used to commit crimes. Nevermind the hundreds of thousands of commuters, teamsters, delivery drivers, and regular ol' citizens, they won't miss their cars...

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    anonymous, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 7:00pm

    PT gets it

    PT gets it exactly.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    anonymous, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 7:05pm

    PT gets it

    and the appropriately name misanthropic humanist doesn't.

    Websters dictionary defines misanthropic as:

    "marked by a hatred or contempt for humankind"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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