Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
copyright, japan, virus

Japan Successfully Misuses Copyright Law To Convict Virus Author

from the good-outcome,-bad-reason? dept

Back in January, we noted that due to a lack of any kind of anti-virus law in Japan, officials there had twisted copyright law to charge a guy who had embedded a virus in a graphic -- where the graphic used was infringing. While it's nice to see the government go after malicious virus writers, it's troublesome to stretch a different law for that purpose. However, it appears the Japanese courts didn't agree and have now convicted the guy. It's always troubling when governments twist laws to serve a different purpose.

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  • identicon
    Not Applicable, 22 May 2008 @ 6:53pm

    Well, at least..

    someone is finally going after these guys. (well, OK, one...but still)... However, I do agree with the author that many laws are twisted to fit an agenda, but of mostly prosecutors, rather than governments. Governments make loosely worded and vague laws that leave much to interpretation.. That's where judges are supposed to come in.

    Too many of these judges are getting on in years and have never been tested for Mad Cow or Alzheimers.

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

  • identicon
    go japan - have them seppuku the hell out, 22 May 2008 @ 8:52pm

    just a mere idea....would putting virus coders on death row have a good chance of deterring people to write virus? i mean, i would love to write a virus and have fun seeing people go nuts, but if it's my life on the scale, i'd rather not.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 May 2008 @ 4:51am


      Well, do you think putting shoplifters would be deterred if they could face the death sentence for swiping a Snickers? Yeah, probably, but the punishment should fit the crime.

      And yeah, some viruses do really not-nice things, but more often than not you're talking about a minor to moderate inconvenience. Viruses very rarely lead to deaths, or even to ruining someone's life. They can steal your information, destroy your computer, or turn you into a zombie in a botnet, but that's hardly sufficient reason to put someone to death.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 May 2008 @ 10:18pm

        Re: Re:

        ya know, i agree that crime&punishment should have a relationship. but let's put it in context, if you break into someone's house, it's one count of offense. If you do that once in 20 different states, that's 20 different counts. if one breaches into a million people's personal property, what's the difference betweeen breaking into million houses? i think death sentence is interesting....i mean c'mon disrespecting some stupid books in certain religion can result in death. lol

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

  • identicon
    Peter Dunkley, 23 May 2008 @ 3:36am

    Good Outcome, Bad Reason?

    If we have to wait for the law to develop formally to tackle abuses of technology we will always be unprotected as it cannot possible move fast enough. Therefore we have to rely on the creativity of the lawyers and the law enforcement agencies to provide any possibility of retribution and, therefore deterrent.

    Besides, if I was the copyright holder of whatever image was used to propagate the virus - I don't think I would have been too pleased. Fair copy, Guv...

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 May 2008 @ 4:57am

      Re: Good Outcome, Bad Reason?

      We should be vigilant to ensure that laws are enacted only as they were intended: if we allow them to be bent out of shape and used in unintended ways then we'll never be able to track what a reasonable and sound law is. When the legal system become chaotic and unpredictable, it loses it's credibility and, at best, ends up terrorizing the populace it was designed to protect.

      You're right, if we don't bend the rules someone is going to "get away" with something every now and again. To defend my freedoms, I'm OK with that. if you want to *make* something illegal, enact a new law, but if it isn't illegal when the crime is committed you shouldn't be able to get the guy on it. Unless we can trust it's codified in the laws as written and intended, there's no way for the average citizen to protect themselves from a powerful opponent -- be it a rich man and his lawyers, a corporation, or the government itself.

      It seems OK now because the laws were abused to get a 'bad guy.' But what happens when someone decides that what you've done as a hobby makes you a bad mad, despite not actually being illegal?

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

  • identicon
    oregonnerd, 25 May 2008 @ 11:13am

    Japan, laws, enforcement

    This kind of enforcement is not uncharacteristic of the Japanese government. You really, really don't want to get in trouble with the Japanese because the penalties are horrific; because they're allies, this has been hushed up. Not that I lived there as child and adult or anything.

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

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