Japanese police nab man for illegally distributing 260 movies online

MUMBAI: Officers from the Saitama Prefectural police headquarters and Kawagoe police station, Saitama Prefecture, assisted by investigators from the Japan and International Motion Picture Copyright Association (JIMCA), raided and arrested Takayuki Hamaura, a 28 year-old unemployed man at his residence in Kawaguchi City, Saitama Prefecture, on suspicion of infringement of the right of public transmission under the Copyright Law.

The suspect, well known on 2ch.net, the most popular bulletin board in Japan, is believed to have used the online screen alias GodBird on Share, a file sharing program similar to Winny. Using his home computer, he uploaded movies onto Share, some of which were camcorded versions. The police are investigating the source of Hamaura’s illegal copies.

The illegal movie files include Motion Picture Association (MPA) member companies’ titles Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which is playing in cinemas now, Watchmen, Terminator Salvation and Angels & Demons.

The suspect is believed to have distributed more than 260 movie, music and animated film titles in the past nine months. If convicted under the Copyright Act, he faces up to 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $105,481.

In May, investigators from JIMCA, which represents MPA in Japan, reported the illegal uploads to the Saitama police who started investigations leading to the arrest on Monday.

"We commend the prompt action of the Saitama authorities in taking down this movie pirate. Such illegal uploads cause serious damages to film makers, movie studios and their allied businesses.  These criminals need to be made aware that nowhere is safe for wrongdoers, not even the Internet," said Mike Ellis.

Japanese authorities have been cracking down on Internet piracy with increasing regularity. In December 2008, 33-year-old Kazushi Hirata, a prolific subtitler who went by the name of Tikal, was sentenced in Kyoto to two years in prison for violation of Japan’s Copyright Law. The prosecution was Japan’s first for copyright violations involving the illegal distribution of a not-yet-released motion picture through the Internet. Hirata’s sentence was 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. In December 2006, Kaneko was found guilty of aiding and abetting the infringement of Japan’s Copyright Law by the Kyoto District Court and fined $15,851.