Japan e-Business Assc. Blames Court For Rejecting Online Drag Sales

Online drag retailers Kenko.com in Tokyo and Wellnet[J] in Yokohama have sued Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare for seeking to lift the ban on online drag sales, and Tokyo District Court[J] dismissed the suit on Tuesday.   Japan e-Business Association[J], consisting of e-commerce giants such as Rakuten and Yahoo Japan, announced a comment blaming the court for the judgment today.

Mr. Genri Goto, Kenko.com CEO made a press briefing and declared the intention that they would take the appeal to a higher court.

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News: Winny developer found not guilty

Judge Ogura at Osaka High Court found Isamu Kaneko, a developer of Winny, not guilty today, reversing the guilty ruling of 1.5 million yen fine made by the lower court.

Winny is a popular P2P file sharing software in Japan. Kaneko developed Winny and released it on notorious 2channel forum on May 6th, 2002.

In 2004, the developer was arrested for abetting copyright infringement. Prosecutor’s office said that Kaneko has created Winny to proliferate copyright infringement to overthrow copyright system in Japan.

However, Osaka High Court concluded that the accused didn’t have a clear intent to proliferate copyright violation. Also the judge decided that he can’t condemn Kaneko for just knowing that copyright piracy is rampant in Winny network.

Disclosure: Shunichi Arai is a vocal supporter of Isamu Kaneko.

Mixi Introduces Two Tiers Friends System

mixi-logo

Japan’s biggest social network service Mixi added a new feature around its Mai-Miku(comes from “My Mixi”) friend system, adding “good friend”.

mixi-good-friend-admin-panel

In addition to the existing “diary only to friends”, you can write a “good friends only” diary now.

There have been many troubles on Mixi Diary such like people boasting their petty crimes were tracked down by analysing their past diaries, friends network and community by raged net users and had to leave their schools/companies. And many of them were by people who had misunderstood that Mixi is closed (and protected) place different from the web.

It is supposed to be safer as you can restrict your readers only your friends. However, as in Japan most people are using nickname and illustration icon without showing their real name or face, having couple of hundred friends means that you have someone whom you really do not remember well. Then, even it was only for friends, your writings are copied and forwarded into the open web.

For example, just a week ago, a police woman in her twenty something by moaning tough work, cheap salary and authoritarian colleague on her Mixi diary opened only to her friends, was reported to get an admonition and resigned at her own request [J] (the form often observed when employer pressures to let him/her so, instead of firing). It is said that her Mixi friend had informed those diaries to their boss.

I am pretty unsure if this good/better/true friends setting solves such an issue, and that also may make you an embarrassed when you notice that you are not listed on your good friend’s good friend.

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Mixi’s Press Release [J]

Election Campaigning On The Net: When Does Law Catch Up With Social Trends?

Prior to the general election scheduled at the end of this month, Rakuten publicized a letter from Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party(LDP) and the opposition Democratic Party of Japan(DPJ) in response to the question by 60 Japanese business leaders including Rakuten’s CEO Hiroshi Mikitani.

The leaders asked both parties about their policies on six subjects including the ban on the e-commerce sales of OTC drugs, restricting the access by minors to harmful Internet websites, revising the legal systems of telecommunication and broadcasting, lifting the ban on the Internet election campaigning.

As for the ban on the e-commerce sales of OTC drugs, which has been effective since a month ago,  LDP says it would discuss further to study how Internet drug sales should be controlled and permitted in the future.   DPJ pointed out there are many problems caused by banning the sales, and it expects to reexamine the restriction.

Concerning about the Internet election campaigning, LDP says the government has to lift the ban on it with remaining some restriction to avoid possible slandering of candidates.   DPJ shows us its perspective that campaigning in any form of websites, blog and e-mail should be permitted.   DPJ swears it would submit a bill of the Internet campaigning to the National Diet if the party win a majority at the upcoming election.

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UGC Song Parody: Freedom Of Expression Or Libeling Her?

Aoi Usagi by Noriko Sakai

Noriko Sakai, who used to be a popular J-pop idol in late 1980s and is now an actress starring on several TV commercial films, was arrested on a suspicion of possessing illegal stimulants last weekend.   She has an enormous number of her fans in Asian nations, especially Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and several Beijing-based news portal sites are filled with her pictures, articles on this case and comments from Internet users.

Despite the record company, which has released her songs, is now calling in her CD albums/singles from music storefronts (announcement by Victor Entertainment[J]), her best hit song titled “a blue hare (aoi usagi)” momentarily marked the 1st rank in counting of downloaded items at iTunes Store, for the first time in a long time since her previous hit.  (A few days after marking the good number, all electronic song distributors, including iTune Store and ringtone content providers, completely withdrew her all songs from their lists.)

This week, some people composed an ironical and parody song named “a white drug (shiroi kusuri)” after her best hit, and some patterns of the music videos filming a virtual singing performance by vocaloid “Miku Hatsune[J]“, a vocal synthesizer developed by Sapporo-based music/sound software company Crypton Future Media[J], were uploaded to video sharing site Nico Nico Douga[J].   Totally these videos have been viewed more than 200,000 times in the last three days.

On Thursday, reportedly Nico Nico removed the videos in accordance with a request by Crypton, and Crypton said that it did so since the videos contained lyrics which might libel a specific person and a result of Crypton’s product.   (Basically Crypton permits any users of the vocaloid software to create any type of works derived from it, and you need not to worry about possible copyright conflict when you publish the works on the Internet.)

A well-known Internet tycoon and the managing director for NicoNico Douga, Hiroyuki Nishimura says on his blog[J],

I can’t find which part of Crypton’s rights have been violated by the uploaded videos.   If any items that Crypton hates had removed without sufficient reason nor the users’ understanding, they could be nastier than JASRAC (the country’s copyright administrating authority).

Author’s note: JASRAC has been often accused by Japanese UGC (user-generated content) site owners because the organization has requested the owners to remove items from their sites without presenting sufficient explanation.   This week’s video removal case could be more acceptable for Internet users if it had been executed based not on Crypton’s request but on Nico Nico’s well-considered judgment.   The video was already copied onto YouTube, and we have no idea whether YouTube has been requested to remove it by Crypton.    Because of no specific name found in the animation and the lyrics, generally speaking, no third-party will have the privilege to compel its removal.

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August 18th Update:

On Monday, Nico Nico Douga set the video back on the site because Nico Nico learned Crypton’s removal request had no legal basis.   For successful compromise, NicoNico requested the removal to the person who had uploaded the video.