Illegal distributor of Wanted via P2P sharing network nabbed in Japan

Mumbai: On September 18, officers from the High-Tech Crime Control Center of Kyoto Prefectural Police Headquarters arrested a 33-year Sendai man on suspicion of distributing the movie Wanted, not yet released in Japan, via the Internet using "Winny" file-sharing software. Wanted is due to be released in Japan on 20 Sep.

The arrest was the first in Japan and if convicted, the suspect faces up to 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $95,540 (10 million yen).

During a raid operation on the suspect’s residence, police seized four computers, 11 hard disk drives and 2,500 DVDs from his residence. The police confirmed the suspect will remain in custody for the next 20 days.

At the beginning of July, the Japan and International Motion Picture Copyright Association (JIMCA) representing the Motion Picture Association (MPA) in Japan, identified the illegal distribution of the movie file and submitted a criminal complaint to the Kyoto Prefectural Police Headquarters.

The suspect admitted to police that he had uploaded the file, which is subtitled in Japanese. Police believe the source of the file is a camcording in a theater in the U.S. and that the suspect added the subtitles. The suspect is believed to have been extremely active in subtitling foreign films and uploading them to the Internet via Winny.

"This enforcement action is a major step forward in our fight against illegal file sharers in Japan. We commend the Kyoto police for their in depth investigation and decisive action in arresting this individual" said Asia-Pacific for the MPA president and managing director Mike Ellis.

"This year, JIMCA has identified more than 30 movie files that have been uploaded to the Winny network prior to their Japan release dates. Uploading copyrighted movies to the Internet is a crime that is extremely damaging economically to not only the filmmakers, but also cinema and home video rental shop owners, and everyone who works in the industry," said JIMCA executive director Yasutaka Iiyama.

The ‘Winny’ peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing system came to prominence in Japan in November 2003 when police arrested two Winny users for illegally distributing game software and a movie. Both suspects pleaded guilty and were each sentenced to one year in prison, suspended for three years.

In May 2004 police arrested the developer of the Winny system, Isamu Kaneko, and charged him with abetting the infringement of Japan’s Copyright Law. On December 13, 2006, Kaneko was found guilty of aiding and abetting the infringement of Japan’s Copyright Law by the Kyoto District Court and fined US$14,331 (1.5 million yen).

Rather than serving files from a single location, the system distributes cached copies of user-provided files around the ‘Winny’ network to other users’ computers, facilitating faster downloads of popular titles. Thus, all users of the ‘Winny’ system open their computers up to others’ files, possibly contributing to copyright infringement.

Over the past few years, Japan has seen a number of high-profile leaks from government and corporate computer networks due to inadvertent uploading of confidential data by P2P network users. JIMCA and the Japanese government have been active in warning computer users about the dangers of illegal peer-to-peer file sharing.