Print 33 comment(s) - last by Xerstead.. on Jun 9 at 5:32 PM

Two men in Japan face fines and jail time over copyright law violations

We recently published an article that reported the U.S. FBI busted a Chicago resident who allegedly uploaded four episodes of "24" to the Internet.  Working under the online alias of ECOtotal, Romero uploaded the four episodes to, which made them available more than a week before the TV premiere.  Jorge Romero surrendered at the U.S. District Courthouse in Chicago -- and he will likely be sent to Los Angeles.

He faces up to three years in federal prison for the charges.

The U.S. authorities aren't the only agencies cracking down on the illegal distribution of copyrighted materials.  Japanese authorities have charged two men of distributing a manga from an unreleased magazine through the Winny peer-to-peer file sharing program.  Authorities also found a 17-year-old with ties to the case, who will likely be charged as an adult.

According to public prosecutors, Mitsukazu Tamashiro illegally distributed three comics from Shukan Shonen Sunday on three separate occasions ranging from January to April.  Kenji Kodama then distributed six other comics from the same magazine from February to April.

Both Kodama and Tamashiro have admitted to sharing the comics through Winny.

It looks like the people who upload unreleased material are the ones that face more than just fines.  My question is:  What, if anything, should happen to people like Romero, Tamashiro and Kodama?  Heavy fines?  Federal jail time?  Nothing?

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Theft of IP
By Spivonious on 6/7/2007 9:29:59 AM , Rating: 2
Since the materials in question weren't released to the public at the time of the upload, these people had to have stolen a copy of the publication at some point. Treat it as basic theft.

RE: Theft of IP
By Flunk on 6/7/2007 10:12:54 AM , Rating: 2
How do you deturmine the value of the theft? Based on total sales of the product? Based on indivual selling price? Based on number of illegal copies distributed? Some combination of the above?

This is not like the theft of hard goods, this is fairly new territory for the legal systems of most countries. A simple "It's theft" is not sufficient for this sort of crime. This sort of crime requires new, specific laws that make sense. Otherwise it's just completely arbitrary.

RE: Theft of IP
By Spivonious on 6/7/2007 1:59:17 PM , Rating: 2
Why does this type of theft require new, specific laws? Do we have separate laws for stealing a magazine out of a store and stealing the magazine, photocopying that magazine, and returning it? They're both theft. Someone stole property somewhere along the line here, be it physical or electronic. Stealing property is illegal.

RE: Theft of IP
By pheffern on 6/7/2007 2:24:06 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is, under the criminal law of most nations, saying that someone committed a crime somewhere along the way is (thankfully) not enough to convict a particular person of that crime. Legally and logically, we cannot simply lump people who distribute unreleased files in with 'thieves' generally - we have no way of proving conclusively that this person who is charged committed the particular act making out the offence of theft. That's in addition to the question of valuation, discussed above, which is an integral element in determining the range of punishment available in most countries.

It's an enormous oversimplification to say that this is theft, pure and simple. For purely practical reasons you DO need a different legal structure to cover it if you want to make it a crime.

RE: Theft of IP
By Xerstead on 6/9/2007 5:32:12 PM , Rating: 2
Because there is a difference between Theft and Copyright Infringement.
If I were to steal something the owner of the property would no longer have it and would therefore be unable to use/sell it themselves.
If i were to copy a file/document/movie the original owner would still have what they had to start with.
With the growth of digital content, 'perfect' copies are much easier to produce and are becoming more of an issue. Legal systems are still catching up.

RE: Theft of IP
By Visual on 6/7/2007 11:04:18 AM , Rating: 3
on the contrary - the fact that it was an unreleased magazine, or episode, or whatever, but people still got their hands on it in some way means that the producers have to look at their own employees and partners, find out the leak, punish the people that are really responsible. someone somewhere "stole" their stuff, or leaked it due to insufficient security... and they were probably obligated by a contract or NDA to not do such a thing, so they are indeed punishable for it.

the fellow that uploaded the material has indeed violated the copyright, but that's all to it. they should not be suffering any additional repercussions on account of it being a previously unreleased work at all. because that aspect of it is much more like a trade secret than a copyright matter - and like all trade secrets, a company can only seek repercussions for those that were actually obliged to keep them by contracts, and can't ever hope to "silence" third parties or the general public once they've got a hold on the "secret".

RE: Theft of IP
By masher2 on 6/7/2007 12:39:33 PM , Rating: 2
The fact that the material is unreleased makes its more valuable, and the loss to the owner more severe. Therefore, the pirate should be punished more severely, on the same basis that a person who steals a $30K car is punished more severely than someone who shoplifts a $1 candy bar.

I believe the phrase, "If you can't do the time, don't do the crime", is applicable here.

RE: Theft of IP
By xxeonn on 6/7/2007 1:41:47 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry but i dont think that you can compare a $30,000 car to a candy bar. Because once you steal a car, no matter the price, its still stealing a car and the punishment should be the same.

A better comparison would be like the difference between Murder 1 and Murder 2.

RE: Theft of IP
By Screwballl on 6/7/2007 2:08:26 PM , Rating: 2
The difference would be stealing a prototype car that happened to be on the road versus stealing someones mass produced car from the driveway... either way it is grand theft auto and the punishment is the same.. treat this the same way as the car example. It is theft of a product that may result in damages to the owner in the amount of X money. Restitution and short jail time should help keep this from happening again (if not, the jail time, fines and restitution should double next time for repeat offense).

RE: Theft of IP
By masher2 on 6/7/2007 4:21:18 PM , Rating: 2
The value of the property stolen does affect the punishment. Grand Larceny is defined as theft above a certain dollar amount-- the amount varies from state to state, but the concept does not.

RE: Theft of IP
By Spivonious on 6/7/2007 2:00:46 PM , Rating: 2
I agree that everyone involved in this should be caught and punished. I never said otherwise.

But even if this guy didn't know it was stolen (highly unlikely, since they were unaired episodes), he can still get in trouble for possession of stolen goods.

RE: Theft of IP
By Topweasel on 6/7/2007 7:28:58 PM , Rating: 2
But the main point is you have to actually catch him with stolen goods instead of assuming he has stolen goods just because he uploaded this early.

Its like the stolen car statement. If the Police found the car and found his fingerprints on it doesn't mean he actually stole or received the car just that he got his hands on it for an undefined time.

RE: Theft of IP
By Spivonious on 6/8/2007 12:53:16 PM , Rating: 2
So I can steal a car and then leave it in a ditch with all of my fingerprints on it and not get arrested? Riiiiight.

RE: Theft of IP
By Xietsu on 6/9/2007 12:27:08 AM , Rating: 2
lmao. The environments of retrospect are completely polarized in so many ways. To correlate a torrent network and a randomly abandoned motor vehicle is just a bit ridiculous.

RE: Theft of IP
By Xietsu on 6/9/2007 12:27:08 AM , Rating: 2
lmao. The environments of retrospect are completely polarized in so many ways. To correlate a torrent network and a randomly abandoned motor vehicle is just a bit ridiculous.

RE: Theft of IP
By exanimas on 6/7/2007 1:44:31 PM , Rating: 1
I agree to an extent. I think them paying fines of some sort should be necessary and maybe a very little time spent in prison to reinforce that they need to not do things like this in the future. 3 years in federal prison? Think about who ends up paying for that: the tax payers. Now, this may be a narrow minded statement, but the way I see it, who should lose money, multi-million (or billion) dollar companies, or the honest tax payers?

Fine them, toss them in jail for 6 months - a year and if they become repeat offenders, then up the penalties, as they were dumb enough to get caught twice.

RE: Theft of IP
By Spivonious on 6/7/2007 2:03:18 PM , Rating: 2
Yes the penalty is a bit severe for the crime, but they're trying to make an example of this guy.

China wants to execute their food & drug minister for taking bribes. Now that is too severe for the crime.

If you don't like taxpayers paying to keep criminals in jail, then perhaps you should move to a country where they don't do that. :)

RE: Theft of IP
By exanimas on 6/7/2007 3:59:17 PM , Rating: 2
Don't get me wrong, I don't mind paying a little bit of taxes to rehabilitate criminals, but I think its a waste of money to jail someone for uploading some leaked content. I think the fines would be enough to scare them away from ever doing that again (if the fact that their computer activity will be closely monitored for the rest of their lives doesn't). And trying a 17 year old as an adult for something like this? These politicians need to get real and stop trying to "make examples" of the first group of people unlucky enough to get caught. They're just trying to gain votes from people who don't understand the subject and think that pirates or whoever are terrible people and should expelled from society. Like another poster said, make them pay for their own jail time. Whatever it costs to jail them for a year, make them pay that.

RE: Theft of IP
By BMFPitt on 6/7/2007 4:27:54 PM , Rating: 3
I'd love to see us execute public officials who take bribes. Especially ones who take bribes that endanger thousands of lives.

Not something I can say often, but China's got it right on this.

RE: Theft of IP
By masher2 on 6/7/2007 11:54:05 PM , Rating: 2
> "China wants to execute their food & drug minister for taking bribes. Now that is too severe for the crime."

Why? If you don't want to be executed, you have a simple solution....don't take bribes.

We'd have a lot less crime in the US if people actually feared the punishment.

RE: Theft of IP
By KristopherKubicki on 6/8/2007 1:00:19 AM , Rating: 2
We'd have a lot less crime in the US if people actually feared the punishment.

Paris Hilton comes to mind...

RE: Theft of IP
By xsilver on 6/8/2007 8:51:09 AM , Rating: 2
the other issue here is that piracy would be considered a white collar crime with only monetary damages being inflicted.

dont DUI drivers who cause deaths receive less than 10 years?
low as 18months or 2 years from memory
now there's justice.

RE: Theft of IP
By masher2 on 6/8/2007 9:47:30 AM , Rating: 1
I've never understood the reasoning behind trivializing monetary losses. When people work to earn it, money is life itself-- that portion of your life you've expended to gain it. When you steal a man's life savings, you've committed nothing more than a minor murder itself.

If someone gave me the choice between having all my net assets stolen at age 50, or being murdered at age 65, I'd choose being killed any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Monetary crimes are not trivial.

RE: Theft of IP
By xsilver on 6/8/2007 10:52:32 AM , Rating: 2
but tell that to the guy who just punched a few numbers on a computer, took your life savings and probably countless others too ; got caught - and does probation! or at worst light jail time... that is how society is atm. very sad.

but then again, most people DO hold life in much more stead than money. you personally couldnt probably envisage such a life but many people already live it. money without life however is pretty useless.

When people work to earn it, money is life itself-- that portion of your life you've expended to gain it.

some people also work for the joy of achieving something, not just money - just a thought.

RE: Theft of IP
By masher2 on 6/8/2007 11:46:20 AM , Rating: 2
> "some people also work for the joy of achieving something, not just money - just a thought"

Do you? I work in research myself...and while part of the motivation is the joy of achievement, the primary factor is still the salary.

There are 300 million people in many of them get up and go to work for anything but a paycheck? 0.01%, if that?

RE: Theft of IP
By xsilver on 6/8/2007 12:46:07 PM , Rating: 2
if its all about the benjamins - then more people would be robbing banks and pimping themselves on live tv - oh wait - thats already happening - only in the usa ;)

if everybody in the usa was offered a 10% payrise but they would have to scrub toilets (or some other taboo job) instead - I would like to see how many people take up that offer.

RE: Theft of IP
By Spivonious on 6/8/2007 12:55:30 PM , Rating: 2
How about if someone offered you a 10% raise but you'd have to never work again. I would jump on that in a heartbeat.

RE: Theft of IP
By exanimas on 6/8/2007 9:09:09 PM , Rating: 2
I probably sound like a broken record by now and honestly, 99% of the time I agree with you and even enjoy reading your posts, but what you just said was pretty moronic. I understand caring a lot about money, its pretty much all I think about and I'm sure I'm not alone, however, if the choice was between say $100K (I'm 20 and work a terrible job, I have nowhere near that amount) and the life of a loved one, for instance, either of my parents, I'm pretty sure I'd work my ass off to get that money together and never regret that decision.

So, granted you work your life away for money and if its stolen ZOMG MAI FINANCES, but money can be made back and life obviously cannot.

RE: Theft of IP
By exanimas on 6/8/2007 9:30:16 AM , Rating: 1
The thing about your point is that most "criminals" don't fear punishment regardless of what it may be. That's usually what makes them criminals in the first place, disregard for simple concepts like punishment and courtesy. Texas has the death penalty, but does that stop them from having murders?

I also agree with your "don't do the crime if you can't do the time" attitude, however, I hardly think taking money is grounds for execution. I know things are a bit different in China than in the U.S., but I don't think any sort of monetary crime should be punishable by death. Money != a life.

RE: Theft of IP
By Etsp on 6/9/2007 9:33:34 AM , Rating: 2
Ummm... the result of those bribes caused a number of people to die... he approved a baby formula with no nutritional content, and as a result, more than 13 babies died of malnutrition... He does deserve the death penalty regardless...

RE: Theft of IP
By Pythias on 6/7/2007 2:04:42 PM , Rating: 2
Hard labor. Let them pay for their own prison time.

RE: Theft of IP
By Screwballl on 6/7/2007 2:13:15 PM , Rating: 2
agreed... too many felons have 3 daily meals, light chores around the cells, exercise rooms and sports outside... all at the expense of taxpayers with the convicts not earning their way.
Hard time should be mandatory for any time served 6 months or longer with exemptions for mental or SERIOUS physical health issues.

Attribution of Inequity
By Xietsu on 6/8/2007 6:55:49 PM , Rating: 2
The nature of such a condoning and partaking in this field isn't something that need require an adolescent being tried as though this were an offense fit for proration. For one, denoting the value of such an act under particular parameters is key. Simply flipping out some case charge without assessment from an acquainted board (revolving around those affiliated with economy, televisionic patterning, and statistics in general) is deftly nothing but definitely that of conduct made inordinately. There are a multitude of factors that one must take into perspective when establishing the impactual relations interwoven into such a crime, and the honest inflections of this instance incite nothing but ideas of inept and inefficient accounting. Such incogency just might've instigated an inclination of mine to have nothing but a felt intuition about illicit excitation in the DRM arena.

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