Foreign resident arrested in Japan for illegally BitTorrent uploading anime

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You might have thought no one cares about the series that he got caught for, but they do, and his total damages are estimated at 1.8 billion yen.

In some ways, the anime industry in Japan might seem like it’s pretty laid back in enforcing its copyrights. The twice-a-year Comiket, for example, is not only Japan’s largest anime-related convention, but also has a merchandise lineup that’s almost entirely non-licensed fan art being sold for profit.

But things are completely different when it comes to copyright violations of the anime itself, and the latest example came this week in Mie Prefecture. On September 5, Korean national Jun-hyun Li, an employed resident of Mie’s Yokkaichi City, used BitTorrent to upload a pirated anime episode to the Internet, allowing anyone to download it. When this came to the attention of the Osaka Prefectural Police’s online crime division, an investigation was started, with the operation culminating in Li’s arrest this Monday.

Investigators say that the episode Li uploaded was downloaded around 250 times, and that through his IP address they were also able to confirm that he’d uploaded an additional 177 files with content from other anime and TV dramas, with the total pirate download count being over 70,000, with the police estimating the total monetary damages at 1.8 billion yen (US$16.2 million), though they haven’t detailed the exact formula they used to arrive at that figure.

When questioned, the 29-year-old Li said that he uploaded the anime episode in September because he’d done some video editing to improve the picture quality, and wanted everyone to see it. So what anime did he upload the episode from, kicking off the investigation that led to his arrest? Some timeless classic or star-of-the-moment series?

Nope, it was the first episode of World Trigger (which, ironically, can already be watched for free in its entirety on Japanese rights holder Toei’s YouTube channel). Granted, the sci-fi series did have a 73-episode run from 2014 to 2016, and the manga version is still ongoing. Honestly, though, by this point the World Trigger anime has been pretty much completely forgotten by the international anime community at large, and perhaps Li, mistakenly, thought that lack of current popularity and attention meant he’d be able to slip under the radar with his illegal upload.

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