All around the world, people who pre-release media onto the Internet face the prospect of harsh treatment if caught. The crew at EliteTorrents felt the full force of the DOJ for their uploading of Star Wars: Episode III, the uploaders on OiNK face uncertainty as their criminal trial is delayed again, and Kevin Cogill, the Chinese Democracy uploader, faces a year of confinement.
In September we reported that a Japanese man had been caught uploading the movie ‘Wanted’ before its Japanese theatrical release. Kazushi Hirata, a 33 year old from the city of Sendai, had painstakingly added Japanese subtitling to the movie, before uploading it to the Winny network. Following a complaint from Japan’s answer to the MPAA (Japan and International Motion Picture Copyright Association), Hirata was tracked down by the Kyoto Prefectural Police, the same department responsible for the 2004 arrest of Isamu Kaneko, the creator of the Winny software.
Less than a month after his September 20th arrest, November 11th saw Hirata pleading guilty to violating Japan’s copyright laws and faced the prospect of up to 10 years jail and a $95,000 fine. Yesterday the court came back with its sentencing decision.
Hirata was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for three years.
“The conviction sends an important message about the illegality of movie piracy,” said Jimca executive director Yasutaka Iiyama adding, “Respect for intellectual property rights is critical to Japan’s economy and cultural identity.”
The arrest of Mr Hirata is believed to be the first in Japan relating to the uploading of a pre-release movie.