Tuesday 5 February 2013

Japan launches Operation Decoy File

This diagram was released by the Ministry to explain
Operation Decoy File
Rocket News 24, a Japanese entertainment site, has reported on Japan's new tactic to combat illegal file sharing: Operation Decoy File. Japan already has strict copyright laws under which illegal downloaders can be jailed for up to two years  and/or a fine of up to  ¥2 million (approx. GBP 13,700) and illegal uploaders can face up to ten years in prison and/or a fine of up to ¥10 million (approx. GBP 68,400).

Now Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has announced, in conjunction with the film and music industries in Japan, that it will launch Operation Decoy File. The excellently named operation involves introducing - would you believe it? - decoy files containing copyright messages into popular P2P file sharing networks. The user clicks on a file intending to download a film or song and instead receives the following message (kindly translated by Rocket News 24):
"A Warning from the Organisation to Raise Awareness of Copyright. Files with the same name as this contain content which is in violation of copyright when distributed over P2P networks such as Winny or Share.

Knowingly downloading and of course uploading files that are protected by copyright law without the consent of the owner over the internet is illegal copyright infringement. Please stop immediately.

Also, from 1 October 2012, downloading content which is known to be available for sale is punishable by a maximum 2-year prison sentence and/or ¥2,000,000 fine.
Our copyright organisation is working to eliminate copyright infringement by file sharing software. In addition to consulting the police to obtain the disclosure of user’s identities, we want to focus on user education."

File sharers have naturally attempted to differentiate between the films and songs they are trying to download and the text files, for instance by checking the size of the files. A thought process which the Japanese authorities are likely to also have had, causing them to at least try to camouflage their decoy files. The Ministry has made it clear that they want to see whether it is possible to reduce the already low incidence of file sharing in Japan by increasing copyright awareness, a tactic which might work better in Japan than other countries.

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