Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
copyright, japan, liability, winny

Japanese High Court Realizes That Developer Of File Sharing Software Shouldn't Be Liable For Infringement

from the good-news dept

Back in 2006, we were disappointed by a Japanese court decision that found the developer of the popular (in Japan) file sharing software Winny, guilty of copyright infringement. The issue, like in so many other cases around the world, was whether or not, by just creating the software, he had "induced" infringement. But by blaming the developer of software for how others use it, the courts put a significant chill on innovation. It suddenly creates massive liability for any developer. The case was appealed, and the good news (via Slashdot) is that Japan's High Court has overturned the lower court's decision, saying:
"Merely being aware of the possibility that the software could be abused does not constitute a crime of aiding violations of the law, and the court cannot accept that the defendant supplied the software solely to be used for copyright violations."
Nice to see common sense win every once in a while.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    B. Franklin, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 6:06am

    Common sense...

    "Common Sense isn't that Common."

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

  2. icon
    Harshal (profile), Oct 9th, 2009 @ 7:21am

    Wouldn't it have been the same as prosecuting a knife manufacturer for a murder committed by their knife.

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

  3. identicon
    TheStupidOne, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 8:27am



    now if the knife came with detailed instructions for how to kill someone and pictures of that knife sticking out of someone's throat ... maybe a different story

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

  4. identicon
    PRMan, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 9:07am

    I bet this has no effect on R4 cards...

    Even though there are many legal uses for an R4 card for DS or other chip mods, I'm sure the Japanese high court would see that issue very differently to protect Sony and Nintendo.

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

  5. identicon
    Sheinen, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 9:40am

    I'm still waiting for someone to tell me how the Microwave is still allowed? I mean, that bugger RELIES on common sense - don't put metal in it - yet it's freely allowed in even the most dimwitted of households!

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

  6. icon
    william (profile), Oct 9th, 2009 @ 9:47am

    uhh, just so everyone knows, this is an extremely rare ruling. In Asian countries (this is a generalization, of course), the courts are rarely truly independent. That's why everyone is SHOCKED the verdict is actually overturned.

    On a side note, whatever "the people" try to accomplish by removing the author of winny or the program itself off the Internet really failed miserably. For people who are unfamiliar with the p2p file share scene in Japan, Japanese people don't really use bittorrent, because they have amazingly HUGE pipe. When we were still crawling along the 5mbs, 10mbs lines, most Japanese people already have fiber in their house, so they don't have to "save bandwidth" with bittorrent

    anyways, tangent. When winny was claimed to be "hacked" and become un-secure, long and behold someone come up with a new program, called "share". Eventually, "share" was deemed moderately safe so someone come up with a program called "Perfect Dark". Each of the successive application becomes even more encrypted and de-centralized. Since Japanese people's got bandwidth to waste, those applications actually route through other users so you can't really tell who it came from and who it's for. The point is, whatever they are trying to do, it's just driving the file sharing deeper underground. Heavy handed approach don't make people stop, they just go do it in darker places where you don't see them. An even bigger problem is that they create applications that even un-tech-savvy people can use easily, thus increase the number of infringement.

    Remember someone said that "If it starts to rain in the desert, it's time to get a new business model"?

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

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2009 @ 11:15am


    'When we were still crawling along the 5mbs, 10mbs lines...'

    The hell are you talking about? A lot of people are /lucky/ to have those speeds in the US! I'm hugely fortunate to be able to get 25Mbps!

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

  8. icon
    Morisato (profile), Nov 2nd, 2009 @ 8:13am

    A bit late now isn't it. I mean its been 8 years or more since this incident occured. He should get reprimanded. I mean people use the iphone and its already been hacked and misused already by some people. Does that mean Steven Jobs should be held liable? Cmon people. They should be actually supporting the developer into making stronger security so that it can STOP people from misusing the software as intended. Though smart devs would at least think of this and possible protection before actually releasing it then finding out if anyone else finds a loop in it.

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

  9. icon
    sprearson81 (profile), Jun 9th, 2012 @ 6:56am

    Far too late.

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

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