Japanese Government To Start Seeding P2P Networks With Faux Files Containing Copyright Warnings

from the if-going-to-jail-doesn't-deter-you,-maybe-some-ANGRY-TYPING-will dept

Late last year, Japan instituted some of the more draconian anti-piracy laws to hit the books, making unauthorized downloading a criminal offense (along with backing up DVD content), punishable by up to two years in prison or fines of $21,000 (two million yen). Apparently, this deterrent isn’t having the desired effect. (Or maybe it is — legitimate downloading is down, suggesting people might be too scared to download from approved sources.) Either way, the government, in conjunction with various members of the concerned industries, has taken things a bit further, seeding warning messages in various P2P networks.

On 25 January, Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications along with various motion picture and music associations announced their latest copyright protection measure, dubbed “Operation Decoy File.”

The plan involves inserting files onto Japan’s popular P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing networks such as Winny and Share which appear to contain popular copyrighted material. However, once downloaded, the file is revealed to be a message appealing the user to reconsider their wicked ways.

This isn't altogether unusual. Record labels have uploaded faux files to these networks for years — one of the most famous examples being Madonna’s sweary upload that asked would-be infringers just what the fuck they thought they were doing. Others have operated in a grayer area, purposefully uploading files solely to track and eventually sue downloaders.

But this is rather novel: instead of the file they were expecting, the person receives the sort of warning most people wish they could skip past on their purchased DVDs.

A Warning from the Organization to Raise Awareness of Copyright

Files with the same name as this contain content which is in violation of copyright when distributed over P2P networks such as Winny or Share.

Knowingly downloading and of course uploading files that are protected by copyright law without the consent of the owner over the Internet is illegal copyright infringement. Please stop immediately.

Also, from 1 October 2012, downloading content which is known to be available for sale is punishable by a maximum 2-year prison sentence and/or 2,000,000 yen[US$21,000] fine.

Our copyright organization is working to eliminate copyright infringement by file sharing software. In addition to consulting the police to obtain the disclosure of user’s identities, we want to focus on user education.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has also crafted this charming representation of how the warning system will work, painting itself a very rosy picture of faceless file sharers stopping dead in their tracks rather than viewing the unwelcome warning as some sort of dare. (Translation courtesy of Rocket News. Original Japanese version here. [PDF])
 

Japanese P2Pers have been discussing this new tactic and attempting to track down warning files in order to suss out any noticeable differences between it and the file it's supposed to be. (Yes, I know. One will be a warning and the other will be an actual piece of entertainment. But noticeable in terms of search results…)

The Ministry’s statement indicates that this new warning system is only a test, albeit one that will stick around if there’s any noticeable downturn in file sharing. Rocket News reports that some members of free-for-all discussion forum (and inspiration for 4chan) 2 Channel [2ch] are taking this to mean that the government may be considering uploading virus-tainted files to the various networks. As tempting as that may seem to some of the more vindictive members of the copyright industry, it’s highly doubtful the Japanese government would be willing to brick computers to deter file sharing, draconian IP laws or no.

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Comments on “Japanese Government To Start Seeding P2P Networks With Faux Files Containing Copyright Warnings”

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60 Comments
Aria Company (profile) says:

This isn’t surprising. Those “various motion picture and music associations” are also trying to get the Japanese government to remove the Neighboring Rights restrictions of copyright owners so they can shaft them even more.

In Japan, it’s still illegal for a copyright owner to waive their right.

Huh. Go figure this is just another association attempt at screwing everyone but themselves.

Designerfx (profile) says:

Re: Re:

no, it’s not surprising. But it is hilarious, considering that a: torrent websites have rating systems and b: it’s an invitation to openly spoof the number of downloads of said bogus torrent and/or try to have as many downloads with fake IP addresses (such as the japan copyright office) on them as possible.

This literally creates more opportunities for mischief than legitimately doing anything constructive.

Ninja (profile) says:

One way to separate fakes from good files is simply checking the number of people that own the file and the number of people downloading (those file sharing networks probably have either one or both pieces of information). Then you have the hash, you can always have an ad-block style blacklist – i sincerely doubt the Japanese Govt will be able to outmaneuver such lists because there will be lots of contributors. File sharing is a social norm. Also, for large files they’ll need to create huge files of pure garbage and waste shitloads of bandwidth on those. Doesn’t sound like a smart plan.

In the worst case people will move to other means of sharing that are less prone to fake files. I have never downloaded a fake file from torrents in my entire torrenting life. The community will filter stuff out by itself.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes I do. And I’d buy quite a lot if not for my decision NOT TO GIVE MY MONEY to morons that sue grandmas, retired people, teens, students for shitloads of money virtually destroying their lives. So currently I help my favorite artists by attending to their shows and donating to projects in Kickstarter, Crowdtilt, Mozilla.

Yes, pirate. And proud to be one.

Anonymous Coward says:

“…it’s highly doubtful the Japanese government would be willing to brick computers to deter file sharing, draconian IP laws or no.”

So a 2 year jail scentance and $21,000 fine is perfectly reasonable, but potentially infecting a $1,000-$2,000 computer system is going to far?

I know that is not what Tim is saying… but considering the amount of FELONY arrests going on in computer and copywrite related ‘crime’, I really don’t see how a virus is going to seem all that unreasonable…

Anonymous Coward says:

Well when it comes to books the solution is always buy paper or hardback, that way they’re unable to pull this DRM crap on you or threaten to throw you in jail for legally buying books.

For the rest of the content like TV shows, you’re pretty much screwed/at risk of being sued and thrown in jail no matter what you do.

Anonymous Coward says:

Also, from 1 October 2012, downloading content which is known to be available for sale is punishable by a maximum 2-year prison sentence and/or 2,000,000 yen[US$21,000] fine.

Boy oh boy do I hope that’s not the actual wording of the law (although I think we’re all well aware of how ridiculous that law is). “Downloading content which is known to be available for sale”? That includes an awful lot of things which are no longer copyrighted, or which are released under permissive licenses but are still sold. Although I suppose it’s nice of them to refer to such purchases as sales. Maybe they could stick to that terminology later, instead of waffling whenever it pleases them…?

Michael (profile) says:

Message

the sort of warning most people wish they could skip past on their purchased DVDs

There is an idea. People move to file sharing to make a product suck less. Instead of making the product better, let’s try really hard to make file sharing suck just as much.

No, nobody would do that, it would be like making people walk in front of a an automobile waiving flags.

Anonymous Coward says:

The difference

The difference will be file size on disk. They’ll probably pad the files with a gig of 0s to make it show up as being as large as the real thing in the search results, but the compression algorithms will result in you downloading it in a split second, and dumping the file into a much smaller amount of disk space on your computer.

The MAFIAA was doing this way back in the WinMX and eD2K/eMule days and using it to distribute malware to unsuspecting downloaders intended to overrun the network with fake files. The ‘small file padded with 0s’ approach had the interesting (and beneficial to the MAFIAA) side-effect of flooding the networks very quickly with available seeds, and always pushing the fake files to the top of the search results, since every machine downloaded it in an instant and began sharing the completed file until the user discovered the problem and removed it (or opened it, and turned their P2P client into part of the bogus file generating botnet)

Griffdog (profile) says:

But, your honor...

“Your Honor, I would never intentionally infringe upon copyright. I read a news story about warning messages that the studios were posting. I wanted to download one and read it, but I just kept getting these other movies. I watched the whole show, but never saw the warning messages. How could I know what was in the file until after I downloaded it and watched it? I’ll never figure out why the studios tried to hide their important message by giving it the same filename as popular movies. Don’t they want people to be able to find their message? Of course, I deleted those popular movie files after meticulously confirming that the content I was looking for wasn’t part of the files. I guess I’ll just have to keep trying.”

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