Arrested In Japan For Showing People A New Pokemon Character A Few Days Early?

from the copyright-laws-gone-mad dept

In certain countries (including the US), the punishment for copyright infringement can be much higher if you distribute a “pre-release” offering. This is really designed to go after people “leaking” music or movies or whatever before their official release dates. However, over in Japan, it appears that such a law has been used to arrest a guy who leaked a few images of “unrevealed” Pokemon characters a few days before they were officially revealed. Copyright infringement is the reason for the arrest. I’m having a difficult time figuring out what kind of “harm” this guy did. It’s not as if revealing the characters early makes it so that people are less likely to buy the new Pokemon game in which these characters were appearing. Imagine if this guy were a reporter for a publication that covered such games, and he got a leak or a tipoff and published a story about those same characters? Would it still be “copyright infringement”?

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Comments on “Arrested In Japan For Showing People A New Pokemon Character A Few Days Early?”

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30 Comments
Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Don’t Pokemon designs fall under the whatever part of “music or movies or whatever”?

I mean, I’m not saying I get it, but why can’t Pokemon characters be as important to them as a new album or film? Of course, I don’t support the prosecution of movie & film leakers either – but I’m not sure why this is any different.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re:

As much as I don’t want to admit it, Pokemon is a form of art and should be protected the same. How that protection is dished out is what I have a problem with. A fine maybe, jail time is a little much. I’m not even sure that a fine isn’t going to far, I just know that jail is for those who are a danger to themselves or others, not Pokemon.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I see what you’re saying, though I’m not sure if it’s an entirely fair analogy. Pokemon is a merchandising *empire* based entirely around the whole “gotta get em all” idea. Perhaps these Pokemon are being unveiled in this particular game, but what they really represent is an addition to the pantheon of characters that is no doubt going to involve countless releases from toys to stickers to god-knows-what-else.

Though the same, I suppose, could be said of movie costumes sometimes – and I suspect in those instances, the movie producers would react in the exact same way.

But this is one of those instances where I have been sucked into defending something I disagree with over one quibbly little point. Overall this whole situation is dumb: I’m just not convinced it’s dumber than countless similar situations.

halley (profile) says:

I’m not condoning the over-reaction on the part of this case, but it also looks like this is another techdirt over-reaction. This is a very common set of circumstances, and some of my sympathy goes to the creative staff whose parade was just rained upon.

To draw an analogy, the Japanese market builds up cartoon characters at events as large as the annual Detroit Auto Show. Think of all the secrecy around “mule cars” on unpublicized demonstrations, or of the iPhone 4 debacle. If you’re pushing a ton of money into building buzz for a new show, new product or a new story arc of a long-running series, I can see being a bit protective of the trade secret… no mystery buzz, no audience.

RD says:

Re: Re:

“I can see being a bit protective of the trade secret… no mystery buzz, no audience.”

FAIL. Lets be VERY clear here: A new Pokemon character IS NOT A TRADE SECRET. Man, you copyright apologists will go to ANY lengths to justify your iron-fisted control over all culture for eternity.

Also FAIL2: Bullshit that there wont be an audience. Thats just false on its face and exposes you right there.

halley (profile) says:

Re: Re:

(meant ‘unpublicized testing’ above)

To add: Trade secrets have very weak protections: once it’s out, it’s out. Copyright is the current cudgel of choice, and it applies in this case. To “Chronno S. Trigger [sic]” above, if the leaker isn’t fined and isn’t jailed, what do you suggest should happen, to (1) rectify this case, and (2) disincent others from making similar leaks?

Jeremy7600 (profile) says:

Leaks have a way of INCREASING demand, not reducing it.

They create more interest, not less.

I’m with Mike, I don’t see what the issue is. So 500 or 500000 people found out early. There are still plenty of other people who won’t see the leaked material and will see it when it is properly announced.

All the leak does is generate MORE buzz.

I read all the Cataclysm leaks last year before Blizzcon 2009. I didn’t go to Blizzcon or watch any of it or pay attention live. If I had I wouldn’t have paid attention to the leaks, because there wouldn’t have been any surprise. Yet my interest was piqued because I wanted to know if the LEAKS WERE TRUE.

The leaks didn’t make me less interested, they made me more interested.

Why is this a bad thing?

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Leaks only create more interest is the ‘whatever’ doesn’t suck.

A leaked sucktastic movie, for example, would have no theatre patronage, because everybody would know in advance how bad it really was.

A leaked awsomeazing movie, on the other hand, would have higher opening weekend theatre audiences than it would have otherwise.

Mojo says:

I agree that the main issue here is the fact that an individual “leaked” the images and not the press. I mean if it’s illegal and punnishable with jail time to show off pre-release images of these characters, then why even bother with secrecy?

The reason they (and Apple and everyone else) keep a cloak over their new goodies is because it’s perfectly legal for the press to run with a leak and spill the beans.

So why is it ILLEGAL for some guy to do the same?

Anonymous Coward says:

>However, over in Japan, it appears that such a law has been used to arrest a guy who leaked a few images of “unrevealed” Pokemon characters a few days before they were officially revealed.

I wouldn’t be too sure if some pre-release law was used. There have been a number of stories over the past couple years from Japan of people being arrested from uploading TV shows onto the internet after the TV show aired, or other media.

Some examples for some Japanese animated shows being uploaded

http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2009-11-30/10-arrested-in-japan-for-uploading-via-share-program

Quote from the article, what they were arrested for uploading
[quote]
1. 40-year-old male company employee from Sapporo (Ranma ? television series)
2. 23-year-old unemployed male from Toride (Dragon Quest IX: Hoshizora no Mamoribito)
3. 47-year-old male company employee from Nagano (8 musical tracks from Victor Entertainment, SME Records, Sony Music Records, Avex Entertainment)
4. 23-year-old male company contract employee from Sayama (music from Ai Otsuka and Kobukuro, Back to the Future Part III, Death Note, Death Note: The Last Name, others)
5. 37-year-old male local government employee from Tsu (Mobile Suit Gundam 00)
6. 44-year-old male company employee from Jōyō (Lorelei)
7. 37-year-old self-employed male from Yokohama (Wii Music, Wii Sports Resort)
8. 57-year-old unemployed male from Komatsushima (unspecified television anime)
9. 40-year-old unemployed male from Okayama (Dragon Ball Kai, Fresh Precure!, Fullmetal Alchemist)
10. 30-year-old male game center employee from Chikugo (unspecified anime)
[end quote]

Of the above, most noticeably the first example was from uploading Ranma 1/2, a show that originally aired roughly 20 years ago.

A couple more recent stories of individuals

http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2010-01-27/male-arrested-in-japan-for-uploading-via-perfect-dark

Person was arrested for uploading episode #38 of Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2010-06-10/2nd-man-arrested-for-uploading-anime-via-perfect-dark

[quote]
The Sports Nippon newspaper reports that Kyoto’s High-Tech Crime Task Force has arrested a 43-year-old self-employed man named Noriaki Matsumoto on Thursday for allegedly uploading anime online, without the copyright holders’ permission, using the Perfect Dark file-sharing software.
[end quote]
He was suspected of uploading about 1000 episodes, but was arrested for uploading one particular episode of a show shortly after it aired on TV.

Anonymous Coward says:

>However, over in Japan, it appears that such a law has been used to arrest a guy who leaked a few images of “unrevealed” Pokemon characters a few days before they were officially revealed.

I wouldn’t be too sure if some pre-release law was used. There have been a number of stories over the past couple years from Japan of people being arrested from uploading TV shows onto the internet after the TV show aired, or other media.

Some examples for some Japanese animated shows being uploaded

http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2009-11-30/10-arrested-in-japan-for-uploading-via-share-program

Quote from the article, what they were arrested for uploading
[quote]
1. 40-year-old male company employee from Sapporo (Ranma ? television series)
2. 23-year-old unemployed male from Toride (Dragon Quest IX: Hoshizora no Mamoribito)
3. 47-year-old male company employee from Nagano (8 musical tracks from Victor Entertainment, SME Records, Sony Music Records, Avex Entertainment)
4. 23-year-old male company contract employee from Sayama (music from Ai Otsuka and Kobukuro, Back to the Future Part III, Death Note, Death Note: The Last Name, others)
5. 37-year-old male local government employee from Tsu (Mobile Suit Gundam 00)
6. 44-year-old male company employee from Jōyō (Lorelei)
7. 37-year-old self-employed male from Yokohama (Wii Music, Wii Sports Resort)
8. 57-year-old unemployed male from Komatsushima (unspecified television anime)
9. 40-year-old unemployed male from Okayama (Dragon Ball Kai, Fresh Precure!, Fullmetal Alchemist)
10. 30-year-old male game center employee from Chikugo (unspecified anime)
[end quote]

Of the above, most noticeably the first example was from uploading Ranma 1/2, a show that originally aired roughly 20 years ago.

A couple more recent stories of individuals

http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2010-01-27/male-arrested-in-japan-for-uploading-via-perfect-dark

Person was arrested for uploading episode #38 of Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood.

http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2010-06-10/2nd-man-arrested-for-uploading-anime-via-perfect-dark

[quote]
The Sports Nippon newspaper reports that Kyoto’s High-Tech Crime Task Force has arrested a 43-year-old self-employed man named Noriaki Matsumoto on Thursday for allegedly uploading anime online, without the copyright holders’ permission, using the Perfect Dark file-sharing software.
[end quote]
He was suspected of uploading about 1000 episodes, but was arrested for uploading one particular episode of a show shortly after it aired on TV.

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