Just received a link to this article which reports on the outcome of the Japanese version of our Grokster case, only this case is in the criminal context (rather than civil). The Kyoto District Court convicted Isamu Kaneko, a former teaching assistant from the University of Tokyo and the creator of "Winny" a pear-to-peer file sharing program, of inducing others to infringe copyright. He's been fined nearly $13,000, and now holds the unique place in history of being "the first software developer to be held responsible for the unlawful activities of others." The article reports Kaneko's statement:
"I regret, more than anything else, that the verdict could cause Japanese software engineers to fear accusations of possibly assisting (in criminal activities) and prevent them from developing useful technologies," Kaneko said in a statement.
The article further states:
Based on Kaneko's statements during the investigation and those posted on his Web site, the court acknowledged that he did not actively encourage copyright infringements over the Internet.
But the court ruled that the defendant promoted his program among general users, and that he took no action to prevent copyright violations.
The ruling also pointed out that Kaneko enabled an unspecified number of users to use the Winny program knowing full well that many of the files exchanged were under copyright.
For those reasons, the court said Kaneko's actions helped Winny users conduct illegal activities.
I share Kaneko's concern that widespread prosecution of "inducement" claims in copyright could harm innovation and development of important new technologies. Kaneko is appealing the verdict. Read more » about Grokster, Japan Style