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Japan police arrest 3 men over deepfake porn using faces of celebrities

The Metropolitan Police Department headquarters (Mainichi/Kenji Yoneda)

Three men have been arrested for allegedly releasing deepfake porn videos online in which the performers' faces were swapped with those of female celebrities, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), Chiba Prefectural Police and Kyoto Prefectural Police announced on Oct. 2.

    The arrests came after police forces jointly conducted simultaneous raids. They are reportedly the first arrests made in Japan in relation to deepfake adult videos.

    The police forces arrested Takumi Hayashida, a 21-year-old university student from the southwestern Japan city of Kumamoto, 47-year-old Takanobu Otsuki, a systems engineer from the city of Sanda in the western prefecture of Hyogo, and Koya Nomaguchi, 30, a resident of the city of Kitsuki in the southwestern prefecture of Oita, on suspicion of defamation and violation of the Copyright Act.

    Hayashida and Otsuki stand accused of creating and putting up deepfake videos online between December 2019 and July 2020, defaming the celebrities whose faces were used for the videos, and violating the copyright of the production companies that created the original adult videos. Police have built a case against Hayashida on suspicion of defamation of two celebrities and copyright violations against four production firms, while Otsuki is accused of the same charges in connection with two celebrities and three production companies. Both men have reportedly admitted to the allegations.

    According to the MPD's Safety Division, Hayashida made some 800,000 yen (approximately $7,600) by releasing the deepfake videos on a website he runs. He is quoted as telling investigators, "I wanted to make money," while Otsuki reportedly told police, "I published the videos to gain recognition from third parties."

    The pair had contacted each other via email to consult over technical matters, and used free software available on the internet. Hayashida is said to have published some 150 deepfake videos and Otsuki about 250, and they were referred online as "deepfake craftsmen." They appeared on the radar during police cyber patrolling in 2019.

    Nomaguchi, meanwhile, is suspected of publishing deepfake adult videos on his website in December 2019 with the performers' faces swapped with the face of a famous actress, consequently defaming the actress. He is also accused of creating a deepfake video using the face of a pop idol and releasing it on Twitter in April 2020, infringing the copyright of an adult video production company.

    The Kyoto Prefectural Police headquarters (Mainichi/Takanori Ishikawa)

    According to Kyoto police, Nomaguchi used free photo editing software available on the internet and created some 100 fake videos. He made about 560,000 yen (approx. $5,300) through ad revenue on his own website and fees from overseas porn sites.

    Police say Nomaguchi has admitted to the allegations, telling them that he needed money for living expenses.

    In Japan, there is no law regulating deepfakes. The Japan Council of Performers Rights & Performing Arts Organization, a group working towards the advancement of performers, commented, "Deepfake porn violates the personal rights of actors, and we hope that legislation to regulate such videos will be established."

    (Japanese original by Makoto Kakizaki and Takuya Suzuki, City News Department, and Norikazu Chiba, Kyoto Bureau)

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