back to article Virus writers charged with copyright violation

Japan has arrested its first suspected virus writers, but in a strange twist the three suspected creators and distributors of a strain of P2P malware have been charged with copyright violation, in an arrest that recalls Al Capone's prosecution for tax evasion. The trio were cuffed by cops in Kyoto on suspicion of involvement …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Film copyright infringement has the same thing but different

    By the same token, the prosecutions for people selling illegal copies of films on market stalls often aren't for copyright infringement. Because the source material is from overseas, and there are slightly different versions in different countries, it has become common for them to be prosecuted for selling an unclassified version.

    So a whole workstream has sprung up doing side by side comparisons of seized versions with the version classified by BBFC.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Are they hax0rs or employees?

    "while wiping MP3 and movie files" I believe a cursory background check will reveal that they are, in fact, employees of the MPAA/RIAA

  3. Ryan

    Criminal Damage

    Surely Japan have Criminal Damage-type legislation?

    Deleting the (not necessarily illegal) files of random strangers seems pretty damaging to me.

  4. Alan Donaly

    Not illegal to

    disseminate damaging virus really are they that backwards you wouldn't think maybe it's not illegal to write a virus thats a different issue but it seems hard to believe they would turn a blind eye to the damage to property.

  5. Dr Patrick J R Harkin
    Paris Hilton

    Fire the arrow, then paint the bullseye round it

    Some nice lateral thinking going on there. If they're deleting P2P mp3's, they haven't damaged your system (as if they'd deleted part of the OS or a paid-for application) and it should be fairly simple to peer-share replacements. A prosecution under "damage to property" might therefore fail, and since writing a virus is not of itself a crime in Japan (and I don't think it is here, either) there's no case to answer.

    But they wanted to get these guys, so they found a law which undeniably has been infringed. It is indeed an Al Capone situation, though probably with fewer spin-off Edward G Robinson films.

    Why Paris? Well, these guys were caught with their pants down... Waddya mean, I can't have a coat icon too?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Not Illegal to

    "are they that backwards"

    Racism alert w00t w00t.

    err, maybe they just havn't had the issue with virus writers we in the westor less affluent nations have had? Generally their smart geeky people are too busy studying to join a large corporation and would be script kiddies don't know enough English to use western script kiddie tools.

  7. Anonymous Coward


    To those that say they can be done under criminal damage.

    It may be the fact Japanese law state that for criminal damage to occur, actual physical damage may be required. To change to state of some 1's & 0's, really doesn't count for this (in the eyes of the law), no matter how we may cry.

    Remember the UK laws have only recently been changed to cover many of these offences, so we can hardly preach.

    Often secondary laws are used as they can often carry harsher penalties (illegal sale of booze is usually tax evasion, not selling without a license).

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    define virus

    It might just be that they cant define "virus" in a way that makes legal sense. Let's say that a virus does one of the following things:

    damage in some way the users personal data;

    adversely affect the performance of hardware;

    grant third party access to the users computer (trojan);

    interfere with the operation of other software running on the users computer;

    So taking any one of those definitions you could find most software companies guilty of writing viruses. Every OS and browser contains serious and undocumented flaws that can be exploited to gain access to an unpatched system without the need for the user to install a separate trojan. MS recently classified some antivirus program as a virus which certainly interfered with its functionality and vista is a steaming pile of shit which is probably not so good for h/w performance... so how exactly do you write a law to cover this? It doesnt even work if you require the "intent to cause harm" or some such a you'll never prove it. The lads in this case for example could just say that it was legitimate MP3/movie deletion software and that the silly users just didn't read the manual. bit tricky really.

  9. Slaine
    Paris Hilton

    define illegal copy

    when's the last time you looked in your temporary internet files... full of stolen images, icons, banners and, strangely, pictures of Paris.

  10. Allan Dyer Silver badge

    Japanese Cybercrime Law

    Of course Japan has a cybercrime law, it was covered in a presentation at the AVAR Conference in 2004:

    It does cover data damage, so why wasn't it applied here? I have three guesses:

    1. None of the victims would admit loosing any data because it was all pirated.

    2. The wording of the law doesn't cover intermediation by malware... the *victim* chose to run the program.

    3. That Police unit doesn't know what it's doing.

    More comments:

  11. Alan Donaly

    Don't accuse me of racism

    @AC I am not a racist I was expressing incredulity in other words I did not believe Japan possibly the most technically advanced nation on the planet would not have laws pertaining to the destruction of data by virus as it happens they do have such laws so I was right it's probably that copyright violations carry more weight and are easier to prove just as in the case of Al Capone we had laws against murder and bootlegging but getting anyone to testify was impossible so they used his books against him no need for witnesses.

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