of what-the-what department
We’ve written a few times before about how Japan’s heavy-handed Unfair Competition Prevention Law created what looks from here like a massive extension of the criminalization of copyright laws. Past examples include Japanese journalism executives arrested for a book that tells people how to save their own DVDs, as well as more high-profile cases in which arrests have been made for selling cheats or exploits in multiplayer video games in line. While these also appear to be an undue infringement of copyright law, or at least an undue criminalization of relatively minor business issues facing electronic media companies, they are nothing compared to the idea. that a person could be arrested and incur jail time for the crime of selling backup files modified for solo game like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
A 27-year-old man in Japan has been arrested after being caught selling modified save files from Zelda: Breath of The Wild.
As reported by Niigata’s streaming system (and spotted by Dextro), Ichimin Sho was arrested on July 8 after posting modified save files for the Nintendo Switch version of Breath of The Wild. It posted its services on an unspecified auction site, describing it as “the most powerful software.” It would provide modified save files which would give the player enhanced in-game abilities and hard-to-obtain items were also made available upon customer request. In his original list, he allegedly charged people 3,500 yen (about US $ 31) for his service.
Upon his arrest, Sho admitted that he made something like $ 90,000 over 18 months selling backups and modified software. Regardless of his other businesses, the fact remains that Sho was arrested for selling modified backups for this one. Zelda play to the public. And this game is entirely a single player game. In other words, there is no aspect of this arrest that involved avoiding cheating in online multiplayer games, which is one of the concerns that generally led to these arrests in Japan within the gaming industry. It’s more like people getting mods for their own games, as well as exchanged game save files, something that has been in the game for as long as the industry has been around.
As Kotaku notes, this is not entirely new to Japan.
While it might sound wild, being arrested for selling save files is nothing new in Japan. Japanese police have arrested people in the past for modifying video game software that violates Japan’s Unfair Competition Prevention Law. This same law was also used by Nintendo to sue a go-kart company in 2017. In 2015, another man in Japan was arrested after selling cheats in the popular online shooter Alliance of Valiant Arms.
Except, again, in most of these cases, the police were arresting those who were selling mods and cheats for online multiplayer games. This is frankly pretty serious, but now we’re talking about the arrest of a person for selling save files for a single player game.
And the real question becomes: who is protecting this arrest? Selling these files doesn’t take a lot of money out of Nintendo’s pocket. It does not harm other players in the game like cheating in online games does. So why does this arrest even take place? And, if there is no right answer to this question, why does such a poorly written law that allows this arrest remain in place?
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Filed under: copyright, criminal copyright, japan, mods, save files, zelda