TOKYO — The developer of Winny, a file-sharing program used extensively in pic piracy in Japan, was found guilty of abetting copyright violations and fined ¥1.5 million ($12,931) in Kyoto District Court on Wednesday.
Isamu Kaneko was the first person to be charged and convicted in Japan as a developer of file-sharing software. He intends to appeal the court ruling.
Kaneko created Winny while a research assistant at the U. of Tokyo and launched it on the Web in May 2002. The P2P software soon spread across Japan, with its ability to protect user identity a powerful draw.
The police took notice and, in November 2003, shut down Kaneko’s site and arrested two Winny users for distributing copies of “A Beautiful Mind” and game software in violation of copyright.
Both users ended up with suspended prison sentences, but the widely publicized busts, the first of their kind in Japan, sent a chill through the Winny community. Then, in May 2004, Kaneko was arrested for aiding copyright infringement.
Winny has reportedly been used as well by thieves of military secrets and other government data, spurring police to crack down. As of April, the number of Winny users stood at an estimated 440,000-530,000.