The Electric New Paper :
9-year-old downloads Japanese anime illegally
Parents get shock letter
THE 9-year-old was caught illegally downloading Japanese anime online.
By Liew Hanqing
03 August 2007

THE 9-year-old was caught illegally downloading Japanese anime online.

Now, the child's parents have received a letter from Japanese animated cartoons distributor Odex telling them to go the company's office to discuss the matter, if they don't want to face legal proceedings.

Similar letters were first sent out in May, when the company began cracking down on local Internet users who had been illegally downloading the cartoons.

Odex imports popular anime titles, such as Bleach, Inuyasha and D.Gray-man, from Japan.

Since May, the company has found the culprits to be mostly students. The youngest was just 9.

Mr Stephen Sing, one of Odex's directors, told The New Paper that though they had expected the bulk of illegal downloaders to be students, they didn't expect them to be so young.

When Odex sent out its first batch of 17 letters, it also posted warnings on anime forums against illegal downloading.

But these were 'not taken seriously', Mr Sing said.

He said they began sending out legal letters on a 'much greater scale' in June, catching many illegal downloaders by surprise. He declined to reveal the number of letters sent.

It is unclear whether all recipients were penalised, but Odex confirmed that it had taken action against some offenders.

One Sec 3 student, who declined to be named, said he received a letter from Odex in June. He was made to pay more than $3,000 in reimbursement to Odex. His parents had to cough up the amount.

He said: 'I was shocked that they had been able to track all my downloading activities from as early as March.'

The boy's father, a 47-year-old businessman, said that though he was shocked by the hefty penalty, he wasn't surprised.

He said: 'I think my son has learnt his lesson.

'However, I think more has to be done to educate parents on these Internet-related issues as well.'

The student added that though he had seen some warning posts on online forums about illegal downloading, he thought it 'wasn't that easy' to be caught.

He said: 'I heard from friends that if I downloaded anime using a particular peer-to-peer file sharing protocol, it would be difficult to track.'

Peer-to-peer file sharing allows users to download files in small information packets from multiple users, instead of a single source.

MISCONCEPTION

This is a dangerous misconception, Mr Sing said.

He said: 'There are ways to track downloading activities very easily.' He declined to elaborate.

In a copy of one letter sent to an illegal downloader obtained by The New Paper, the user was sent a list of files which he had illegally downloaded since March.

Mr Sing said that the company was meeting with each recipient of the warning letters.

Lawyers hired by Odex will determine the penalties, if any, on a case-by-case basis.

'Most of the Internet account holders are these students' parents who knew nothing about their children downloading anime. They were shocked,' he said.

He said that the company is in touch with the anime clubs of various schools and have given them notices to help students be better-informed.

Under the Copyright Act, users found guilty of wilful and significant downloads face fines of up to $20,000 and up to six months in jail.

The Act does not specify what constitutes a significant number of downloads.


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