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Machine-learning A.I. used to try to skirt Japanese censorship laws.

Last October, officers from the Kyoto Prefectural Police arrested Masayuki Nakamoto, a resident of the city of Takasago, in Hyogo Prefecture. Nakamoto stepped into the sights of law enforcement when he began selling copies of adult videos online, and on Wednesday a verdict was reached in his trial.

The videos the 44-year-old Nakamoto had been selling weren’t just simple pirated copies, though, but videos that he had altered to appear uncensored. Japanese adult videos are required by law to obscure the performers’ genitals, with placing a mosaic over them the most common form of compliance. Nakamoto, though, was selling adult videos that looked like they had their mosaics removed.

“Looked like” is because since the mosaic is hard-coded into the image of the commercially released video, it can’t really be removed. Instead, Nakamoto used an A.I. program, which via machine learning gained an understanding of what uncensored genitals look like, then used that knowledge to create a photorealistic simulated visual representation. Nakamoto then placed the simulated image over the mosaic, making the on-screen performers appear completely uncensored, despite this actually being the second round of digital additions to the original footage, and offered his doctored videos for sale online.

All of that brought charges of copyright violation and “display of obscene electromagnetically recorded media” down on Nakamoto once the authorities caught wind of what he’d been doing. Though he was released on his own recognizance, Nakamoto was back in the courtroom of Kyoto district court on June 29, where presiding judge Shinsuke Danjo sentenced him to two years in prison, with the sentence suspended for three years. The harsh two-year sentence, Danjo explained, was because Nakamoto had regularly and repeatedly engaged in selling the videos over the course of roughly 10 months, while …continue reading