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.

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Comments on “Publishing Execs Arrested, Face Jail Time, Because Book Tells People How To Back Up DVDs”

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35 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

They do not have to. It is close to a sweeping rubber-paragraph as those we see used in authorian regimes.

There is a fundamental fact with these kinds of far too restrictive laws: They are impossible to enforce in a fair way.

The point for authoritarians is: Prosecute your enemies while you close your eyes for your friends law-breaking. To get it really going you gotta close the internet though ’cause it smells very bad. Most likely the law is just made in a moment of stupidity, caused by money from Nintendo and others in this case.

Yogi says:

Dark Ages

I would not be surprised if i was reading about this kind of despotic behavior in a history book about the Dark Ages.

But this shit happening in the 21st century just shows how much humanity hasn’t progressed at all, spiritually. We’re still worse than any animal.

Thanks once again to the RIAA AND MPAA for dragging civilization back down the gutter. And US Congress of course.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Dark Ages

> I would not be surprised if i was reading about this kind
> of despotic behavior in a history book about the Dark Ages.

You or your descendants will be reading about this in a history book about the 2nd Dark Ages.

In case you hadn’t noticed we are not only in the middle of a Copyright and IP Digital Dark Ages, but rapidly creating a new feudalism. But there’s more.

If you point this out it almost makes you sound like a raving lunatic.

We already have the High Court and Low Court systems in place. The US already routinely ignores its own constitution and laws. Our government is already bought and paided for. Corporations are people — yes it’s official. Unlimited bribery contributions. Money is speech.

I mean, how far does it have to go to be recognized for what it is?

Dark Ages indeed.

Oh, and that’s living in one of the best places in the world to live in.

Anonymous Coward says:

Not just libdvdcss

It’s not just libdvdcss, it’s any program or device that can play DVDs since, obviously, the data has to be decrypted before it’s of any use to the consumer. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate “cut off your nose to spite your face” situation? In order to stop “piracy” of DVDs, we’re going to make it illegal to play DVDs!

Anonymous Coward says:

Oh boy… I have lots of DVDs, but if I couldn’t rip them to files to play from my HDD… well, I wouldn’t have bothered buying them. I’m perfectly willing to purchase licensed products. I’m NOT willing to purchase something that I’ll scratch to death in several weeks. I actually imported quite a few DVDs from Japan, but now I’m kinda afraid of doing it again…

Anonymous Coward says:

like stated, this is being done to make an example out of someone. further, i’ll bet a dollar that there is someone in the police hierarchy that his friendly with someone in the entertainment industry and favours are being done. we have seen how that works in the Megaupload case. perhaps if the lawyers of those accused ask why they have been singled out when so-and-so (like the afore mentioned Amazon Japan CEO) has been left alone?

Chilly8 says:

They will likely only go after the biggest offenders. Its just like with the S 978, the Commercial Felony Streaming Act. If that ever becomes law, the Feds will only go after the biggest offenders.

Whenever that is a pay per view fight with Manny Pacquiao, you will find on Justin TV, a number of streams, often with a combined total of viewers reaching into the millions. There is no way the feds are going to proseute a million people just because they watched a pay per view fight for free. We would have enough jails in the entire country to hold them all. Of course that is why S 978 would requires that you have purloined at least $2500 worth within 6 months. With the average price of a PPV fight around $50, you would have to watch 50 PPV fights within a 6 month period to reach the $2500 threshold. At least Amy Klobuchar has crafted her bill so that the US would not be prosecuting so many people we would not have enough jails to hold them all.

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