In a surprise decision, an Osaka court has found Isamu Kaneko, the creator of Japan’s hugely popular anonymous P2P file-sharing program Winny, innocent of all charges.
The 39-year-old computer scientist was initially accused of being an accomplice to the crimes of the users of his software, despite having no contact with them or any culpability other than being the developer of the software.
In 2006 he was found guilty of abetting copyright infringement and fined $15,000, with the prosecution seeking a year in prison.
However, he appealed the verdict, and the Osaka High Court finally reversed the previous decision and proclaimed him innocent. A presiding judge ruled that “merely being aware of the possible infringing uses does not constitute abetting the crimes.”
Although the logic of his prosecution would suggest that the likes of Microsoft should be held responsible for enabling criminal activity through the use of its Windows operating system, software which is found in the possession of most computer using criminals, most observers thought a guilty verdict a foregone conclusion.