Infringement of Copyright Using File Sharing Software

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Infringement of Copyright Using File Sharing Software

What is File Sharing Software?

Usage of file sharing software such as WinMX, Winny, Napster, Gnutella, KaZaA, and iMesh is sometimes detected within the University, possibly for legitimate purposes. Such software integrates the functions to obtain and provide files, and you may be using the software only to obtain a particular file; however, the obtained file become subject to provision to multiple other users.

In this situation, the following issues arise.

Q: What happens if a music file or commercial software package is placed in an environment where anybody can copy it?

A: This infringes the Copyright Act (Rights of Public Transmission, etc. and Rights to Enable Public Transmission).

“Public transmission” refers to all types of transmission to the public in any manner, including wireless, wired, individual communication, and broadcasting. If you transmit a copy of someone’s work to the public through the Internet, this is regarded as infringing the public transmission rights of the author of the work.
“Enabling public transmission” refers to putting a copy of someone’s work in a state where public transmission is possible. Placing a work downloadable by third parties infringes the work’s author’s “Rights to Enable Public Transmission” of his/her work. This “Rights to Enable Public Transmission” was made law to include crimes not covered by the actual transmission of the work.
In other words, this right enables an arrest just by establishing a website that makes third parties’ work available for public transmission?even if an actual download/transmission has not yet been identified. It is permitted to use or copy a work for personal purposes (Copyright Act, Article 30), but transmitting an illegitimate copy of a work over the Internet, or making such a copy available for Internet transmission are regarded as criminal activity.
Both of which are subject to imprisonment for a maximum of three years, or a maximum fine of three million yen (Copyright Act, Article 119).
Also, uploading a third party’s work to a website server is regarded as an act beyond personal use and an infringement of the work’s author’s right of reproduction (Copyright Act, Article 21, 96, and 119).

Case Studies

The police raided a house on suspicion of infringement of the copyright act (Rights of Public Transmission and Rights to Enable Public Transmission) on May 27, 1999.

The first charge of illegal MP3 data distribution (free distribution and placing the data available to download freely) was brought in May 1999.
The Aichi Prefectural Police raided the house of an 18-year-old office worker living in Sapporo-city in Hokkaido on May 26 on suspicion of infringement of the copyright act (Rights of Public Transmission and Rights to Enable Public Transmission).
The suspect had illegally copied CDs of popular musicians, such as B’z and Hikaru Utada, and uploaded them to his Internet website.
(On the previous day, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported on its front page that the police were working hard towards possible raids.
The paper also reported that the police had encouraged copyright holders to make complaints about parties committing serious copyright infringements and submitted instructions to prefectural police to reinforce raiding preparations.)

Case of copyright infringement by putting music data available for transmission to anonymous Internet users without the permission of the authors (March 26, 2002)

On March 26, 2002, the Association of Copyright for Computer Software, the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers, and the Recording Industry Association of Japan announced the following: Kyoto Summary Court had submitted a summary order to pay a fine of 400,000 yen to a 20-year-old occupational college student, who had been arrested on suspicion of copyright infringement (Rights of Public Transmission) by the High-Tech Crime Taskforce of the Kyoto Prefectural Police, Yamashina Police Station, and Gojo Police Station on November 28, 2001.
The sentence was given to the student for infringing copyrights by making business software and MP3 music data, which had been created from commercial CDs, available for public transmission over the Internet using file sharing software without the permission of the authors.

Case of copyright infringement by making business software etc. available for transmission to anonymous Internet users without the permission of the authors (November 27, 2003)

On 28th, the Association of Copyright for Computer Software announced that a university student, A, in Suginami-ward, Tokyo, and an occupational college student, B, in Saitama-city, Saitama had been charged with making business software etc. available for public transmission over the Internet without the permission of the authors, using file sharing software that enables users to share the data on each other’s computer.
The High-Tech Crime Taskforce of the Kyoto Prefectural Police, Yamashina Police Station, and Gojo Police Station searched the suspects’ houses and arrested them.
Student A had made software packages, such as the Japanese version of Adobe Photoshop 6.0 (photo editing software of Adobe Systems), Ichitaro (word processing software of JustSystems), and Microsoft Visual C++ for Windows Version 6.0 Standard Edition (application development software of Microsoft) available for public transmission over the Internet using the file sharing software called WinMX, while frequently changing his user name.
Student A is suspected of infringing the software authors’ copyrights (Rights to Enable Public Transmission) through this activity.
Student B also made business software, including the Japanese version of Adobe Photoshop 6.0 and MP3 music, available for pubic transmission over the Internet.

References

  • Shock of MP3, (First appearance) Bijinesu Jitsumu Houmu (Practical Business Laws), Chuo Keizaisha, Inc., Article 56, January, 2001.
  • ASCII24
  • Compendium of Japanese Law 2003, Sanseido.

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