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A Kyoto district court has convicted and fined Isamu Kaneko, author of the Winny P2P file sharing program.

The application, which had around half a million users earlier this year, was used for distributing copyrighted material, including movies and games.

A researcher at Tokyo University, Kaneko was arrested in May 2004. This week a court found him guilty of enabling copyright infringement, and fined him ¥1.5m. (That's about £6,500, or two billion US dollars at today's exchange rate).

"The ruling will stop the development of information technology in Japan. Programmers will no longer be willing to develop new technologies," the director of League for Software Engineers told the Daily Yomiuri newspaper

The verdict has been appealed, and will move to a higher court.

According to reader Nick, law enforcers took little notice of Winny until they found themselves implicated.

"Exposing crap police computer security practices, albeit accidentally, is a sure way to have the Japanese authorities chase you into the ground. The Japanese authorities showed little real concern about Winny or WinMX until the scandals involving the police," he writes.

Despite an ambiguous SCOTUS ruling that services who "induce" infringement may be found liable for infringement, US courts have yet to successfully prosecute software developers for the consequences of their actions.

The most high-profile indictment to take place in a US court, that of Russian programmer Dmitri Skylarov, was fell apart when the prosecution, Adobe, declined to pursue the case. ®

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