Japan Makes First Game Piracy Arrest Under New Law

R4 and other game-copying devices on sale in Akihabara in 2008. A new law passed in 2011 attaches criminal penalties to the sale of such devices.
Photo: Jean Snow/Wired

The first arrest has been made under Japan’s Unfair Competition Prevention Act since it was amended last year to combat piracy-enabling devices, according to a Nintendo press release.

An IT Media report states that the defendant, a self-employed 39-year-old man living in Saitama, allegedly sold game-pirating devices to three people over the internet between Feb. 14 and March 9 for a total of 7,200 yen ($91 US). He was arrested Wednesday by the Aichi Prefectural Police Department.

“We hope that these devices will disappear from the marketplace in light of this recent action,” Nintendo said in its statement.

Devices such as the R4, which allow consumers to circumvent copyright protection on handheld videogame consoles, are collectively known in Japan as majikon.

While it has been illegal to sell majikon in Japan for years, the ban carried no criminal penalties, so the devices remained readily available on the internet as well as on the streets of Japan’s electronics districts.

A December 2011 revision of Japan’s Unfair Competition Prevention Act allowed for such penalties to be applied to “the act of providing devices to circumvent technological restriction measures.”

Nintendo did not speak to the details of the case, aside from praising the efforts of the Aichi Prefectural Police Department.

Also included in today’s announcement was news of a Fukuoka man arrested in February for modding Wii consoles so that they could play copies of software backed up onto a hard drive. While not a majikon case, he was charged with violating the new Unfair Competition Prevention Act as well as the Japanese Copyright Act.

Alongside these Japanese actions, Nintendo also highlighted majikon sales bans around the world in countries such as Korea, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany.



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