Please view the main text area of the page by skipping the main menu.

Yoroku: Free riders at work and the danger of trusting pirates


"How many people work at your office?"

"Hmm... maybe about half?"

It's perhaps too natural an exchange, so some reading it may not realize for an instant that it's a joke. If it's half, then some people may sarcastically say that's a lot of people.

People who don't do anything themselves, and just receive the profits created by the group as a whole are sometimes known as "free riders." There are probably managers out there who worry about them. However, those who still nod along when they hear the humorous poem, "Streamlining our work/ When it dawned quite suddenly/ I'm not needed now," can hardly criticize others for being free riders.

On the subject of free rides, there's the world of finding yourself in a monetized situation before you know it while using supposedly free services on the web. The most shocking example recently has been that websites hosting pirate content have been piggybacking onto its users' phones and computers to prospect for cryptocurrency.

Recently, former operators of the popular pirated comics website "Manga Mura" were arrested under suspicion of contravening the Copyright Act. The site had tens of thousands of comic book page images on its site, and its operator made money from the ad revenues it could charge in accordance with the hits it was getting. But it appears they were maintaining another revenue stream, too.

Cryptocurrency mining requires a huge amount of computational power, so the operator of Manga Mura was manipulating visitors' devices without permission to include them in its array for the practice. Those being used by the program would find their electronics ran more slowly and used a lot of power in the process.

Of course, the amount of money it would have cost them to be part of this processing hive would be very small, but it shows that there are potential traps even on pirate websites offering free content.

Your small-time, workplace free rider can't begin to touch the level of impudence by this website operator, which got a free ride out of work rightfully owned by others and even hitched a lift on its users' devices.

("Yoroku," a front-page column in the Mainichi Shimbun)

Also in The Mainichi

The Mainichi on social media