Publishing Execs Arrested, Face Jail Time, Because Book Tells People How To Back Up DVDs
from the arrested-for-<i>what</i>? dept
Last month we wrote about a new copyright law in Japan whose punishments seemed so disproportionate it was hard to take it seriously. For example, downloading unauthorized copies or backing up content from a DVD were both subject to criminal penalties. According to this story from Daily Yomiuri Online, it looks like it’s no joke:
The Metropolitan Police Department arrested Yoshiaki Kaizuka, 43, an executive of Chiyoda Ward publisher Sansai Books Inc., and three other company employees on suspicion of violating the Unfair Competition Prevention Law, and sent papers on the firm to the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office. According to a senior police official, these are the nation’s first arrests over the distribution of software to remove copy protection.
And their terrible crime? Allegedly selling a book that told people how to make backup copies of DVDs. That, of course, would involve circumventing the trivial copy protection on DVDs, which was enough to trigger the arrests, apparently. But as a post on Wired.it points out, if publishers can get into trouble under the new law so easily, so might others:
It’s interesting to note that Japanese cyber Police could arrest the Amazon Japan CEO too as the online giant is selling a lot of magazines, books and software packages for DVD copy and ripping: exactly what put in trouble Sansai Books staff.
The same post notes that many GNU/Linux distributions come with the libdvdcss library which similarly allows the DRM system to be circumvented so that the DVD can be played, and would therefore fall foul of the new copyright legislation. So does the Japanese government plan to go after all the Web sites offering such software, and all the users?
The current action probably doesn’t presage a massive crackdown on every infringing use, since that would involve arresting a significant fraction of the Japanese population. It’s more likely to be an attempt to put the frighteners on people in the hope that everyone will stop downloading files and cease making backups. As we know from similar situations, that may work for a few months. But once things die down, people will go back to doing what they did before until the next time the Japanese authorities decide to make an example of someone, and the whole pointless cycle begins again.