Last year, Japan introduced changes to their anti-piracy legislation in a bid to clamp down on file-sharers downloading copyrighted content which meant that downloaders as well as uploaders could face jail time and be hit with huge fines. They were hoping that this legislation would push internet users into purchasing their content from legitimate outlets but while the legislation change was a dramatic one, getting the “legal-downloading” message across to internet users has proved to be somewhat problematic.
So in order to do this, the government and rightsholders have introduced “Operation Decoy File” which sees anti-piracy messages embedded inside fake files!
Fake files have always been a huge irritation to internet users, often they are used to spread malware or viruses, though there is anti-virus software that can detect the majority of them. Unfortunately however, picking up those files that just aren’t what they are supposed to be is a frequent occurrence for the regular file-sharer.
Anti-piracy firms have toyed around with the fake file concept for some time, hoping that the disappointment of downloading the fake would convince people to go to a legitimate source. The Japanese Government, working alongside music and movie studios has tweaked this idea and is using the fake file to carry their ominous warning!
By going directly to the source, the government is hoping to get their message across more effectively say than if they advertised the legislation changes on TV, radio or social media.
At the end of January, Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication announced the launch of “Operation Decoy File”. A translation of the notice (original here, Japanese pdf) that will be embedded inside these fake files is as follows:
“A Warning from the Organization 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 over the Internet that are protected by copyright law without the consent of the owner 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 yen [US$21,000] fine.
Our copyright organization is working to eliminate copyright infringement by file sharing software. In addition to consulting with the police to obtain the disclosure of users’ identities, we want to focus on user education.”
Despite the fact that this move will undoubtedly prove to be unpopular with the majority of file-sharers, it does raise some interesting talking points. For one it goes straight to the source and reaches its target audience directly and as TorrentFreak points out,
“Knowing that a just-downloaded file could’ve have come directly from the authorities could serve as a reasonably powerful deterrent, without the need for user privacy to be compromised in any way.”
In saying that however, TorrentFreak also points out that it is only likely to reach inexperienced users who struggle to tell the difference between a 360KB pdf and a functioning MP3. They suggest that directing users “creatively to an official download could’ve yielded even better results.”
What do you think? Will “Operation Decoy File” work to push file-sharers into downloading content from legitimate sources? Leave a comment and let us know.