The developer of Winny, the infamous Japanese P2P software that is pretty much equivalent to "information security", "personal information disclosure" and "the computerized embodiment of the devil" in Japan, has been acquitted reversing a guilty ruling by a lower court that imposed a 1.5 million Yen fine. (At current exchange rates, about $17,000USD)
This is great news for anonymous P2P software developers as they now do not have to hide in fear of getting caught for distributing software that provides anonymity!
I am very surprised by this ruling as most Japanese are pretty "hard headed" concerning these kind of issues, so good on the judges for not going with the crowd and just assuming that because someone releases software that provides *albeit now broken* anonymity that that person is undoubtedly doing something illegal.
From the Japan Times:
OSAKA (Kyodo) The Osaka High Court on Thursday acquitted the developer of the Winny file-sharing software program of copyright violation, reversing a guilty ruling by a lower court that imposed a ¥1.5 million fine.
|Isamu Kaneko KYODO PHOTO|
Isamu Kaneko, 39, who published the software on his Web site in May 2002, was accused of assisting two users to illegally make movies and other files available for downloading through peer to peer online file exchanges in September 2003 in violation of copyrights.
Kaneko, a former University of Tokyo researcher, pleaded not guilty, arguing at the high court that certain technologies always involve the possibility of being abused and questioning whether engineers should be punished when their technologies are misused.
"It cannot be said that the defendant published the software to encourage copyright infringement, thus its public opening cannot be recognized as abetment of copyright violation," said presiding Judge Masazo Ogura in the ruling.
Okura determined that while Kaneko had been aware of the possibility that his software would be used to violate copyrights, "the defendant did not encourage illegal acts." He rejected the prosecutors' argument that Kaneko developed the program intending to undermine the copyright system and that he encouraged unlawful copying of protected content.
The Kyoto District Court had found him guilty in December 2006, ruling he "made Winny public on his Web site, assisting users to easily violate copyrights." It called his acts "selfish and irresponsible."
The case marked the first time in Japan that a developer of software has been charged and found guilty over unlawful acts by the software's users. The guilty verdicts on the two users have already been finalized.