Japan’s onerous Unfair Competition Prevention Law has created what looks from here like a massive overreach on the criminalization of copyright laws. Past examples include Japanese journalism executives being arrested over a book that tells people how to back up their own DVDs, along with more high-profile cases in which arrests occurred over the selling of cheats or exploits in online multiplayer video games. While these too seem like an overreach of copyright law, or at least an over-criminalization of relatively minor business problems facing electronic media companies, they are nothing compared with the idea that a person could be arrested and face jail time for the crime of selling modded save-game files for single player game like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
A 27-year old man in Japan was arrested after he was caught attempting to sell modified Zelda: Breath of The Wild save files.
As reported by the Broadcasting System of Niigata (and spotted by Dextro) Ichimin Sho was arrested on July 8 after he posted about modified save files for the Nintendo Switch version of Breath of The Wild. He posted his services onto an unspecified auction site, describing it as “the strongest software.” He would provide modded save files that would give the player improved in-game abilities and also items that were difficult to obtain were made available as requested by the customer. In his original listing, he reportedly was charging folks 3,500 yen (around $31 USD) for his service.
Upon arrest, Sho admitted that he’s made something like $90k over 18 months selling modded saves and software. Whatever his other ventures, the fact remains that Sho was arrested for selling modded saves for this one Zelda game to the public. And this game is fully a single-player game. In other words, there is not aspect of this arrest that involved staving off cheating in online multiplayer games, which is one of the concerns that has typically led to these arrests in Japan within the gaming industry.