the Hidden Realities of Computer Industry in Japan Japanese

6.3 Copyright Violation


The essayist Natsuhiko Yamamoto once said, "The frequency of design theft is as numberless as the sands on the seashore."
I've heard that design theft happens so often in the architectural industry. Some client forces his design engineer to steal someone's idea. To my surprise, this kind of violation frequently occurs in public building projects. It's hard to believe that the chief of a public institution orders his vendor to make the same design of building that is made by others. Of course, the order is sent to a vender other than that who has created the original one. Given this situation, the healthy protection of copyright could not be expected. The guardian of the law has the nerve to break the law.

In the worst case, an engineer uses a measuring tape to copy the design of the building. This could help him create a perfect true-to-life copy. In fact, I know an engineer who was stolen his design. When he saw two pictures of his design and the copy, he said, "It's amazing! I can't tell which one is mine."

The violation of copyright poses another serious problem. The problem might be that no one has recognized the significance.

Every design contains various defects. It's impossible that entire design process is completed successfully. In most cases, the details suffer many problems. Only an original designer could know them. However, many of them are found during the actual construction process. On the other hand, these problems will remain defective if the design was stolen from someone else.

My company once published the textbook for Information-Technology Engineers Examination. The text covered the knowledge on the assembly language and was targeted for a reader who was fully familiar with the computer. It wasn't so hard to read since the examination itself is not so difficult, though.

Although I am wholly doubtful of the merit, the examination seems to be very popular among programmers and wannabe programmers. That's because passing the examination may increase the chance of getting a good job or higher skill allowance. Since the reference book sells well, every publisher wants to deal in the relevant textbook.

I have once proofread such textbook and have found that the same error was committed in several different books. The writer of these books must have referred to any other textbook. It is a matter of common practice, so you should not worry about it.

When I was wondering about these matters, I have found a strange textbook. This book included explanations and exercises that seemed to be a close copy of an another textbook. It was an extremely malignant act. The violation of copyright was committed by some university professor with a long established publishing company.

Then I wrote a letter to the editors of the company saying that what they had done was a gross violation of copyright. They didn't send an answer to my letter promptly. I thought they were seeking a confirmation of the fact. However the answer I finally received from them was saying just, "Sorry, the writer was sick now." I thought they were like politicians. Whenever they were in trouble, they became sick or hospitalized.

Years ago, I was asked from some publishing company to promote a software product developed by some local software house. In those days, PCs are not so popular as it is today. We have very small number of software programs to be available. That's why, I was pleased to help the house because I thought it would lead to the wide availability of software. Sometimes I wrote an article about it for some magazine, and sometimes I lectured at the product seminar. Every attempt was revealed to be successful, and it made a cooperative relationship between the publisher and the software house.

After a while, however, a terrible fact was found about the product. The software house didn't create the program for itself. The source of the product was already run in the special number of some computer magazine. It was far from original development. In short, the product was a pirated edition made by 100% copyright violation.

Since I was not in charge of legal matters, I don't know what have happened about the problem thereafter. Any way the software house has become considerably popular after that. I was disappointed to know that a company must act wily like this case in order to achieve commercial success.


Copyright 1996, 1999 Hirofumi Fujiwara. Translated by H.K.
No reproduction or republication without written permission.

the Hidden Realities of Computer Industry in Japan Japanese