Japan police arrest two for file sharing

TOKYO, Japan (AP) -- In a rare police crackdown on Internet file-sharing, two Japanese men were arrested for allegedly disseminating movies and games with software that claimed to protect users' identities. The arrests -- only the second such case in Japan -- could signal a shift toward harsh penalties for anyone caught trading copyright material online. The entertainment industry had encouraged the crackdown. Software that allows anonymous file sharing gained attention this year as the U.S. recording industry shifted from trying to shut down the creators and promoters of file-sharing software to suits against the users.

The Japanese case demonstrates how difficult it can be to stay anonymous on the Internet. The two suspects, a 41-year-old man who runs a business and an unemployed 19-year-old, were detained November 27 for alleged copyright violations using a "peer-to-peer" program called Winny that is available on the Internet for free. The program allows users to trade files without revealing their Internet Protocol address, the Internet's equivalent of a phone number.

Kyoto police spokesman Yukinori Kumamoto didn't say how police identified the suspects. Winny is partly based on Freenet, a freely distributed program intended to bypass Internet censorship by making users anonymous.

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News source: CNN

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