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Toshiba Employee Arrested For Selling Software To Break Copy Limits 90

Posted by Soulskill
from the those-three-little-letters dept.
JoshuaInNippon writes "A Toshiba employee in western Japan has been arrested on charges of copyright violations for selling software online that breaks copying limits on certain Japanese digital TV recording and playback devices. The software specifically overrides limits on a program called 'dubbing10,' which is used in devices sold by companies such as Sony, Sharp, and Panasonic. It is believed that the man generated thousands of dollars worth of earnings for himself by selling to at least 712 people, including one teenager who then resold the software to another 240 people. This is the first disclosed case in Japan of someone being arrested for selling such limit-removal software for digital TV recording. Since it sounds like he has already admitted to selling it (although he denies creating it), and due to the generally high conviction rate of those arrested by Japanese police, his future does not look so bright at the moment."
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Toshiba Employee Arrested For Selling Software To Break Copy Limits

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  • Hmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 26, 2009 @12:16PM (#30238086)

    I wonder how the police cracked this case.

  • Argument (Score:5, Insightful)

    by headkase (533448) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @12:34PM (#30238202)
    If there was mutual trust between customers and copyright holders this situation wouldn't exist. People are stealing because they know intuitively in their gut that they are being ripped off, see: The Public Domain [thepublicdomain.org]. And copyright holders are failing to meet the needs of their customers - nobody wants digital restrictions yet they insist to maximize that little thing called profit. It will come back to bite them in the ass, it already has.
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by hrimhari (1241292)

      People are stealing because they know intuitively in their gut that they are being ripped off

      Damn, and I thought it was just human nature to prefer taking over buying, allied to an impressive tendency to lie to oneself.

      • by headkase (533448)
        Thats what I said. Of course everyone can do better, I've started with me.
      • Re:Argument (Score:5, Interesting)

        by realityimpaired (1668397) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @01:21PM (#30238536)

        Most people will pay for something if they feel that the price point matches the perceived value, rather than steal it.

        It's just that more often than not, the perceived value is nowhere near as high as the value set by the seller, and when such a cognitive dissonance exists, people will steal it and justify that however they choose. I will, for example, choose Avast over Norton for antivirus on Windows machines, because, ethically, I'd rather have something that's legitimately being given away than steal something that isn't. In a society where people have been conditionned to have a 30s attention span (thank you, commercials!), and to expect instant gratification, that break point where people decide that it's no longer worth paying for something is decreasing. Industry needs to recognize that, and either reexamine their business models (so that they're only selling things that can't be stolen, and no, I don't mean DRM, I mean sell services rather than products), or to adjust their pricing to reflect how people value their wares.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Same thing here. I'm not going to pay hundreds of dollars to watch Battlestar Galactica one time when I could just get it from the library. Neither would I want to wait for 12 months for the DVD release of "V" to catch up on the first four episodes.

          I blame scour.net since it let me get mp3s for free in 1999. They should be shut down.

        • Yep, they are selling inferior products at an elevated price and then are surprised people try to find ways around it ? The most ridiculous thing is that breaking the copy protection only gives users back the rights taken away by these companies when moving to DRM'ed digital media in the first place.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by mpe (36238)
            Yep, they are selling inferior products at an elevated price and then are surprised people try to find ways around it ?

            From the customer's POV the likes of DRM create an inferior product. There is no situation where they add any value at all. But they do add cost, which is likely to be passed on to the customer. The idea that adding DRM could reduce prices just dosn't make much sense.
        • by Dogtanian (588974)

          I will, for example, choose Avast over Norton for antivirus on Windows machines, because, ethically, I'd rather have something that's legitimately being given away than steal something that isn't.

          Isn't the fact that Norton is generally held to be bloated crap, regardless of its price, also a factor in your decision?

        • Half the 'virus removal to speed up computers' that I've done is simply uninstalling norton to free up 2/3rds of the ram and processsor.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Honest people will pay for something if they feel that the price point matches the perceived value, rather than do without it.

          There, fixed that for you.

          The following rant is not aimed at realityimpaired, since he stated he uses open source alternatives for ethical reasons. His post simply provided the best springboard for it (sorry).

          Movies, recorded TV shows, and software aren't food. You don't need them. If the vendor is charging more than you think it's worth, use a substitute, or do without it. There

          • by erlando (88533)
            +1 truth
          • by mpe (36238)
            Movies, recorded TV shows, and software aren't food. You don't need them. If the vendor is charging more than you think it's worth, use a substitute, or do without it.

            Thing is that the recorded entertainments industry tends to believe that they are entitled to a certain revenue. If they think that profits are "too low" they will claim "piracy" then lobby for more copyright and/or legally mandated DRM. If that causes problems for podcasters and independent musicians that is a positive side effect in their
          • by hrimhari (1241292)

            +1 Truth indeed. Thank you.

        • by mpe (36238)
          I will, for example, choose Avast over Norton for antivirus on Windows machines

          As opposed to Avast being less of a resource hog. Whereas in some cases NAV appears to be using something along the lines of "If I slow down the machine enough then viruses won't be able to grab enough resources to infect the machine..."
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by westlake (615356)

      People are stealing because they know intuitively in their gut that they are being ripped off.

      The two disk Blu-Ray release of a $180 million production like Wall-E costs $18 when purchased from Amazon.com. All extras in 1080p.

      Wall-E in standard definition is an instant download for your Netflix subscriber.

      Disney returns to lush 2D animation and the animated musical feature with The Princess and the Frog.

      Black heroine. New Orleans jazz ca. 1925.

      Tell me what other studio would have the confidence and resour

      • by headkase (533448)
        Perhaps some are seeing sense more than others and starting to actually value their customers.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by headkase (533448)
        And Black heroine? 1925? That should be public domain.
      • Re:Argument (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Sabriel (134364) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @04:40PM (#30239872)

        Wall-E on Blu-Ray for $18? Awesome! Oh, wait, Amazon's warning me about something:

        Please note: Your order contains at least one Region 1 (Canada and U.S.) encoded DVD. Region 1 DVDs might not play in DVD players sold in the country where this order is being shipped. Please also note that some Region 1 DVDs contain a Regional Coding Enhancement. Some of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on their “region-free” DVD players. Learn more about DVD region encoding and formats. To modify your order, edit the quantities below.

        Hmm. It also seems the DRM on the disc won't let me make a backup in case of the kids wrecking it either. What was that you were saying about Disney's confidence in its customers?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ironicsky (569792)

          Here ya go :-) http://www.exit1.org/dvdrip/ [exit1.org]
          Fixes the "Region Lock" problem.

          I have over 100 legally owned DVD's all backed up as ISO's on my personal hard drive just in case... I'm very bad for crushing crap, and my dog is bad for chewing on shiny things...

          • by Sabriel (134364)
            Alas, the OP and I were discussing Blu-Ray, which dvd::rip does not handle; I think Amazon just called it a "DVD" for the sake of convenience/laziness. Blu-Ray: extra resolution, but extra DRM too. :p
        • by westlake (615356)

          Region 1 DVDs might not play in DVD players sold in the country where this order is being shipped.

          There are only three Blu-Ray regions. The B/2 disk is available for £18 in the U.K. WALL-E (Blu-ray) [moviemail-online.co.uk]

          Hmm. It also seems the DRM on the disc won't let me make a backup in case of the kids wrecking it either. What was that you were saying about Disney's confidence in its customers?

          Disney's trust in its customers begins and ends at the same point as everyone else in this business: where the geek gets his o

          • by Sabriel (134364)
            Disney would do well to remember that "everyone else in the business" includes its customers. They don't want to trust me? S'okay. I can live without them.
      • by mpe (36238)
        The two disk Blu-Ray release of a $180 million production like Wall-E costs $18 when purchased from Amazon.com.

        The movie industry is rather notorious for creative accounting, so it's can be hard to work out what something cost or at what point it will have been "paid for". It also makes more sense to only consider the actual costs associated with the DVD. Which has a fixed cost of producing the master then a cost per copy.

        All extras in 1080p.

        Maybe they were on film or HD in the first place. Note also
      • by delt0r (999393)
        I want to buy Transformers 2. Yea i liked it, and I am happy to pay for a DVD (dito 9, district 9 and star trek). I rented it the other day (rentals are 1EU a day here). It played out of order in all 3 computers *and* my DVD player. It was useless.

        So i have 3 options:
        1. Buy the disk and still not be able to watch.
        2. Not buy the disk, let economic incentives do its thing, and not watch.
        3. Not but the disk, let economic blar blar, And download it and watch.

        I have chosen 3, and its a royal pain in th
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Microlith (54737)

      People are stealing because they know intuitively in their gut that they are being ripped off

      They -think- they are being ripped off, but they would do so even if the prices were truly reasonable. The p2p audience seems to consist of pack-rats and freeloaders, with a tiny subset of people who take a moral (and sometimes hypocritical) stand.

      copyright holders are failing to meet the needs of their customers - nobody wants digital restrictions

      No argument there, but making a case against it is hard. Progress is

      • by headkase (533448)
        The stand is hypocritical: people should be boycotting instead of stealing, but boycotting is ineffective... That's where people start to exhibit their passion.
        • The stand is hypocritical: people should be boycotting instead of stealing, but boycotting is ineffective...

          Public domain is the natural order. You can't steal what already belongs to you.

          • by headkase (533448)
            Exactly so if we reach a fair and balanced consensus as citizens discussing issues of importance to ourselves, say what the exact term of copyright should be. In our court that is. So, you could then apply this vigilante argument to your actions and only download works older than the fair term. If you happen to be caught and prosecuted you produce a record of the totality of your reasoning including logic, values, history, and motivations - this civil discourse. When you are in a legal court, for now, y
            • Thats activism.

              Yes it is. However, it is only one kind of civil disobedience which itself is only one form of activism.
              Direct action, such as the Boston Tea Party, is another form.
              Piracy is a type of nonviolent direct action which is an entirely legitimate form of activism.

      • Progress is being made, with the rapid death of DRM on music distributed via iTunes and Amazon.

        Don't make the mistake of thinking that DRM was dropped because customers wanted it to be dropped. If ipods ever lose their market dominance, watch for DRM on music to make a comeback. The only reason DRM on music went away was because Apple held a monopoly on music DRM due to their ~90% marketshare for music players and used their control over DRM as powerful leverage in negotiations. The RIAA abhors a monopoly that's not under their control, and the only way to break Apple's monopoly was to drop DRM.

        Th

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ultranova (717540)

        The p2p audience seems to consist of pack-rats and freeloaders, with a tiny subset of people who take a moral (and sometimes hypocritical) stand.

        The very fact that there is content available through P2P proves you wrong: someone went to the trouble of ripping, disinfecting, and uploading the game/movie/music in question. P2P couldn't exist if only a "tiny subset" contributed their personal resources; they would very soon run out and the system would collapse.

        • by identity0 (77976)

          This is an absurd argument. We all know that contributing upstream bandwidth that you're already paying for anyways is NOT the same as paying $10 for a DVD, otherwise we would be doing that. And that an encoding and seeding job can be done by one person or a small team but lead to thousands of people getting it, so yes it is a "tiny subset" that contributes meaningful work (time and effort to encode and edit), while most 'contribute' something that requires no effort on their part.

          And while I think copyrigh

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ultranova (717540)

            We all know that contributing upstream bandwidth that you're already paying for anyways is NOT the same as paying $10 for a DVD, otherwise we would be doing that.

            Many times I see people keep on seeding, even if the file is in multiple small RAR files (yes, some morons still distribute gigabyte files formatted for floppies). Those RAR files are utterly useless once their content has been extracted, and take up valuable hard disk space, yet people still leave them there and the torrent program - which also c

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hurricane78 (562437)

      Did you just seriously use that artist extortion and media reproduction industry FUD of calling it “stealing”??

      Please go and heal the brainwashing!

      It is a service. NOT a product. (Never was. Never will be.)
      It is digital(ly transferred). It is NOT a real object.
      It is a copy. Stealing is when the owner does not have it anymore!
      There is no such thing as moving with digital data. There is only copying (and then perhaps deleting)!
      GOT IT?
      How can you, as someone who posts on a website for computer expe

    • by selven (1556643)

      If I got a copy of this software my gut instinct would be to break it. I'm just not comfortable with software on my own hard drive working against me, so I would disable it even if I never plan to violate its restrictions.

  • by pla (258480) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @12:40PM (#30238250) Journal
    IANAL, and certainly not a Japanese one, but I have to wonder what they would actually charge him with.

    Arguably, since he denies writing the program, he violated the real author's copyright (though I would think that only the actual author could pursue legal action in that case).

    Other than that... The closest US analogy I can think of would involve some variety of "theft of service" (or facilitating the same), somewhat like selling software to uncap your cable modem. But that doesn't really seem to fit, since the software only limits the end user's use of what they already have, not their use of content provided by the OEM companies. I can't even see it as facilitating copyright violation, unless Japanese law explicitly has a fair-use idea of "You can do this ten times before it counts"... Otherwise, what makes ten views okay but eleven a violation?

    As the parent poster mentions, however, I don't really suppose any of this matters. Off to the gallows with this scofflaw! Hmm, does "interfering with corporate profitability" count as a capital punishment yet?
    • by WCguru42 (1268530) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @12:50PM (#30238308)

      My best bet would be facilitating in copyright infringement (though I have zero knowledge of japanese law of any form). The fact that he didn't make the software really doesn't seem relevant. There's nothing inherently illegal about creating that software as long as it doesn't get out. I could tinker around making all sorts of software (well, if I knew how to code) that when used would be illegal just to see if I was capable of making the code without any repercussions.

      In a probably flawed analogy, simply because you didn't cook the coke doesn't mean you won't get arrested for selling it.

    • The closest US analogy I can think of would involve some variety of "theft of service"

      What about DMCA - which is where most copy-protection-removal schemes fall.

      It's a pity the guy was concerned with profit, and didn't just post the method for breaking the copy limit on some eastern European web server. Then he'd be (a) famous and admired, and (b) a free man.

    • TFA: "Masumura is accused in two specific instances, one where he sold a CD-R to a man for 850 yen (~$8USD) and another where he sold a download to a teenager for 650 yen (~$6USD)"

      I know it is disastrous trying to extrapolate meaningful conclusions from the details of this Examiner article -- but the wording of the article leads me to believe he's being arrested for selling the software.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @12:42PM (#30238270) Journal
    Not that there would be a market for de-crippling software, or that the jackboots would come down hard on someone who attempted to satisfy that market; but at the numbers given in TFA.

    It mentions one sale, on CDR, of software and directions, for the equivalent of ~8USD. A download sale(to somebody who then resold a large number of copies) for ~6USD. Stated number of sales, over the year, is "at least 714".

    That sounds like pretty mediocre money for taking on any significant legal risk(especially since he has had a steady job with Toshiba for 15 years now, this isn't some 15 year old, or a guy dealing drugs because he has zero job skills). Has there historically been virtually zero risk, and this guy just drew the short straw and got to be the leading edge of some new crackdown? Is he just not that sharp?
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Read TFA... of course he isn't Sharp... he's Toshiba!

      (would NOT have dared such a bad one as a logged-in user :p)

    • by WCguru42 (1268530)

      A download sale(to somebody who then resold a large number of copies) for ~6USD.

      More surprisingly, no mention of people pirating the download. That would be some sort of irony.

      Though, I have to say, restrictions on private copies is a whole lot of bull. iTunes gives you five computers, and if you forget to de-authorize a computer before reformatting (can't because of a crash) then you quickly hit that limit on your own personal computers and get stuck with the once a year de-authorize all computers. And now with HDCP you get even more hoops when trying to store media onto a format t

      • by Pikoro (844299)
        It's worse than that. I live in Japan and have one of the Sharp DVD recorders using dubbing10. It is designed so that you can record a copy of a over the air digital broadcast and record it to DVD for later playback.

        To do this, you have to use special DVD-R discs that support the CPRM standard. On top of that, you can only play it on the player where it was recorded. Unfortunately, this also applies to private recordings. I dubbed some home movies from a MiniDV tape to the recorder and then attempted
    • by owlstead (636356)

      It could just be that it is more of an ideological thing. Not everything everybody does is just for their own good. He might be outraged by all these copyright protections.

      And it's an easy thing to earn a bit of money with as well. Just putting it on the web for free download might not be such a grand move either (unless you want to be listed everywhere and stop all uploads from your computer.)

      And yes, I don't think the risk is that great unless you try to be big, or if you're easily picked up by automated

  • Japanese police (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 26, 2009 @12:44PM (#30238274)

    Japanese police have such high conviction rates because,

      1. they do not follow western style of interrogation.
    http://www.debito.org/policeinterrogations.html
    There is no Miranda laws, lawyers, etc.

      2. In Japan, if police charges you with something, the society believes that you must have done something. The Japanese culture is closer to "prove your innocence" than "prove your guilt".

      3. The Japanese police historically does not bring up charges for people that they don't have evidence for. This results #2.

    • except for the guy who was charged with spraying Sarin after Aum Shinrikyo's first practise run in southern Tokyo in 1995(?). He had his life ruined, then the cops just dropped him and went after the real perps. He sued them for an apology but got nothing.

  • by turtleshadow (180842) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @12:54PM (#30238350) Homepage

    If Japan participates in ACTA and other international treaties then this could be a circumvention of encryption controls type of crime which would incur greater penalty than larceny or simple theft.

    To the Law outside is there a difference of kind to manufacture lock picks vs to sell them vs being actually caught picking locks vs being searched and having one found on your person?

  • by InakaBoyJoe (687694) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @01:50PM (#30238782)

    Notice how the article reports that the suspect is a "Toshiba employee" even though his activities have nothing to do with Toshiba (as far as we know). That's how things work in Japan (and Asia in general) -- the company, relatives, etc. share some responsibility for an individual's actions simply by association.

    • I had somewhat assumed that Toshiba had created the "dubbing10" program that was being cracked. However I'm unable to find any sources that either confirm or deny that assumption.

      Can anyone else find anything on it? Google doesn't come up with much other than various places in which it is used, but not where it was created.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by eealex (835401)
      I totally agree with what you are saying. When students are caught taking drug, the president of the university has to come and apologize in front of the press; when a guy committed in mass killing, his parents has to deal with this also.
  • par for course (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fermion (181285) on Thursday November 26, 2009 @02:09PM (#30238918) Homepage Journal
    Reminds me the first episode of Leverage this season. People who rob us blind, like the senator from alaska and bank executives and middle management, get of nearly scott free, while this guy, who made "thousands of dollars" is going to probably be nailed to the wall. It is like spending billions fighting street drug dealers, while letting the high level drug users off the hook [washingtonpost.com].
    • This is slashdot so we have plenty of hackers. Now we just need a hitter, grifter, thief and mastermind so we can start dealing out justice.
  • It's not all bad. At least according to wiki, Japan has one of the lowest incarceration rates of the civilized world. The conviction rate may be high, but the sentencing is extremely lenient and the total number of convictions is low.

    Commit a murder in Japan? Out in 10-15 years. Rape? 2-5 years. Etc. That's ridiculously lower than typical sentences in the U.S. for the same crime. Also, "acquaintance rape" is almost never prosecuted because a prosecutor won't bring a case forward unless they are cert

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Yuuki Dasu (1416345)

      It's not all bad. At least according to wiki, Japan has one of the lowest incarceration rates of the civilized world. The conviction rate may be high, but the sentencing is extremely lenient and the total number of convictions is low. [...] In the U.S., prosecutors fail to get a conviction about 30-40% of the time in trials, and a vastly higher percentage of the population is prosecuted.

      Ever wonder why Japan has such a high conviction rate?

      In Japan, confessions don't get overturned. There's really no provision for confessions under duress, and confessions trump material evidence. This leads prosecutors to do whatever they can to get confessions.

      In Japan, you can be held by the police for up to 23 days. During those 23 days, life will be hell. You will be subjected to endless hours of interrogations, little sleep, crowded conditions, and no exercise (unless you count 15 minutes a day in

      • I read that. I'm just saying that it's overall still not as bad as Louisiana or Texas by a long, long, long margin. Those states might pay lip service to your rights - but the mob will still convict you on the slimmest of evidence, and sent you to prison for about 10-20x times the sentence, under harsher conditions. Or they'll just murder you.
  • "due to the generally high conviction rate of those arrested by Japanese police"

    I wonder if high conviction rates are a result of superior investigation techniques, whereby arrests are only made when the case evidence is already relatively overwhelming - or if it means that once you enter the interrogation room, you only come out once you plead guilty.
  • I'm totally against prosecuting people who share information at no profit, but people like this have no leg to stand on. If anyone should make money, it should be the holders of those copyrights.
  • - is improving a product able to even be classed as a crime in and of itself in any reasonable society?

    Altering a product which results in an illegal item (assembling bombs etc), OK. That's a separate area of law entirely. But producing an end product or system which can merely do more of something which is already allowed? Where there is no law against making an eleventh copy other than that the manufacturer would pretty-please like people not to? THAT'S how they're going to try and stay profitable?

    Is

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