Kyoto prefectural police officers have arrested a 43-year-old male resident of Takasago, Hyogo Prefecture. With this, they brought an end to his nine-month spree of destruction.
What kind of destruction? Mosaic destruction.
Mosaics aren’t recognized as protected species in Japan, and their lack of physical form means that destroying them doesn’t qualify as vandalism. The problem, though, is that the man had been destroying the mosaics in adult videos.
A little background for those unaware (or aware but not in a position to admit it): Despite Japan’s unabashed appreciation of sexy entertainment, the showing of uncensored sexual intercourse is prohibited in adult videos, and so the performers’ naughty/fun bits have to have an obscuring mosaic placed over them. However, while there’s no shortage of unusual fetishes in Japan, mosaics themselves aren’t necessarily one of them。
So most viewers would rather watch adult videos without mosaics, if only there were a way. That’s what the man from Hyogo, who has admitted to the charges, was offering. Through his website, the man took requests from users for what adult videos they’d like to watch mosaic-free, then went to work making their dreams come true.
However, a key point is that unlike the scrambled broadcast pornography in some countries where the distortion effect is separate from the performers’ image and can be removed once payment is confirmed, in Japanese adult videos the mosaic itself is part of the image, and not something that can be peeled off to reveal the action going on underneath.
So while what the Hyogo man did is being called “mosaic destruction” in Japan, “naked creation” would actually be the more accurate description. Using an AI machine-learning program, one originally designed to enhance security camera footage or restore old/damaged film images, the man was able to estimate and recreate what the uncensored image would have originally looked like, then place that over the mosaic. In other words, he wasn’t wiping away the blurry mosaic of the censored version, but adding an animated overlay of his own, one that looked like uncensored sex, on top of the censor mosaic.
In the eyes of the law, though, the difference between removing the mosaic and using AI to create a naked overlay is essentially porn-tay-to/porn-tah-to, and the police arrested the man for display of obscene electromagnetically recorded media (a fittingly quaint-sounding charge for a justice system that requires mosaics on adult videos).
He’s also facing charges of copyright violation, since his destruction/creation editing wasn’t something he did just out of a love of exposed genitalia. After he was done editing the videos, he’d post samples of the mosaic-less versions on his website and offer the completed versions for sale. According to investigators, between December and August he sold roughly 12,000 videos to 200 registered users of his site, earning approximately 11 million yen.
That works out to an average of 60 videos per person, priced at 917 yen each.
It’s worth noting that the legal problems the man faces don’t seem to include any for the actual video editing itself, only the acts of distributing and selling them, and had he kept the private part-showing videos he created private, he probably could have avoided any trouble with the law.
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