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After a bit of poking around it looks like the tool was called "padBinEditor" - files and instructions can be found on various English game cheat sites.

As near as I can tell, all it does is let you edit locally stored game data files - to lower a boss's stats and so on. Why this is illegal, I have no idea. JP news reports all mention "bypassing data protection", so I guess that means the data files were encrypted (for some value of "encrypted"). But according to the app's instructions it works on non-jailbroken iOS, so it's not like it's defeating OS protections - it's just getting files from storage and overwriting them. I don't grasp all the details but it seems pretty chilling.

If you were to share a bunch of copyrighted material in the States, the MPAA/RIAA et. al. would come and threaten you with a law suit (and you'd settle out of court). In Japan, if you do the exact same thing, you will be arrested [1]. It's a difference in "what is normal".

[1] http://aramajapan.com/news/music/40-people-arrested-for-ille...

Unless it has changed recently (which is very possible) I believe Japan still only has criminal charges for "commercial" copyright infringement. In other words you need to make money off if it. I'm not familiar with the incident you linked to, so take my comment with a grain of salt.

Edit: I am indeed wrong. The criminal penalties are spelled out here: http://www.cric.or.jp/english/csj/csj5.html

I don't have time to see when it changed, but this is a pretty big modification from the last time I looked. Sigh...

I definitely recall 3 people being arrested back in 2012'ish for sharing a very large number of Nintendo 3DS ROMs on one of the Winny/Share/Perfect Dark platforms, so the change must have preceded this.

Yeah. Now that I think about it, I probably haven't paid attention to this since about 2007-2008. I'm getting old... I was thinking it was just the other day ;-)

It's not clear to me what copyright is being violated here.

Is there copyrighted content that is being distributed without license?

Japanese law is pretty different from the US on this stuff. In chatting with people about this case I learned about something called the "right to preservation of identity" for copyright works - particularly works that are deemed to be "movie-like", under which games apparently qualify.

I don't follow the details but the famous test case was apparently in the late 90s when Konami successfully sued companies for selling memory cards pre-loaded with save data for a particularly hard game.

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