A schoolboy has been arrested for copyright infringement for using the “free” file hosting service MegaUpload to distribute pirated manga to the public.
Police swooped on the 18-year-old schoolboy’s Akita prefecture home, arresting him for copyright infringement and seizing his computers.
His crime was to upload popular manga he obtained online to MegaUpload, and list the files on his site, “manga.jp” – in this manner he made thousands of manga titles available to the public, accruing 2,500,000 accesses.
In common with most web-based piracy, his objective was profit – he used Google AdSense advertising on the site, banking some $3,500 thanks to Google’s ambivalent stance on copyright violation. He also apparently made gains from MegaUpload itself. The site was also hosted on Google’s “Blogspot” service.
Google notionally prohibits the use of AdSense on shady sites, but in practice generally ignores them and only moves against sites it deems “pornographic.” Google also ignores most complaints about copyright infringing use of its “Blogspot” hosting service.
MegaUpload is of course used chiefly to distribute copyrighted material without the relative hassle of using a P2P service – however, as long as they comply with takedown requests and everything is uploaded by users, this is essentially legal in the US under the provisions of the DMCA and similar legislation, which is quite liberal in certain respects.
The investigation itself was launched based on copyright complaints by Shueisha, Kodansha, and 3 mangaka.
The case is significant, as using overseas file-hosting services to distribute copyrighted files had previously been considered a completely safe option by most Japanese Internet users.