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Toshiba worker arrested for selling copy limit busting SW

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A Toshiba employee in Japan has been arrested for selling copy limit breaking software, letting buyers copy digital TV programmes on Japanese recording and playback products as much as they liked.

The copy limit software is called Dubbing10 and lets digital media device users copy a recorded digital TV programme up to ten times. It was introduced in July 2008, after criticism that the previously available single copy facility was far too limited.

Sony added Dubbing10 as firmware updates for its Japanese territory Blu-ray and DVD recorders in 2008, as well as to certain Vaio desktop and notebook computers. Sharp and Panasonic also added the Dubbing10 software to certain of their products.

A Japanese paper reported that the Toshiba worker, Tetsuya Masumura, was arrested on Wednesday in the Ehime Prefecture in northwestern Shikoku, the smallest of the four main islands of Japan.

He sold software that bypassed the Dubbing10 copy limit at an online auction site, as a download or a posted CD, and had at least 712 customers. One of them, an enterprising teenage university student, sold it on to another 240 people. The police said Masamura sold the software for peanuts, with prices of between 650 yen ($7.50) and 1,000 yen ($11.50) mentioned.

That means he earned upwards of 500,000 ($5,766) from his mini-business, The teenager is said to have made about 145,000 yen ($1,640) through selling the code on. (That's because Masamura didn't add copy restriction code to his product.)

This is the first time anyone in Japan has been arrested for selling copy limit removal software of this sort.

Masumura, who joined Toshiba in 1993 and worked on rechargable battery development, claims he didn't write the software. It's not known where he got it from.

Toshiba issued a statement saying: "It is very regrettable that our employee was arrested for such an allegation. We will strictly handle the matter in accordance with further developments of the investigation."

That sounds like Masamura could lose his job as well as probably going to jail. The student can expect to be arrested for breaking the Copyright law as well. ®

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