TOKYO (AFP) — Japanese companies plan to cut off the Internet connection of anyone who illegally downloads files in one of the world's toughest measures against online piracy, a report said Saturday.
Faced with mounting complaints from the music, movie and video-game industries, four associations representing Japan's Internet service providers have agreed to take drastic action, the Yomiuri Shimbun said.
The newspaper, quoting unnamed sources, said service providers would send e-mails to people who repeatedly made illegal copies and terminate their connections if they did not stop.
The Internet companies will set up a panel next month involving groups representing copyright holders to draft the new guidelines, the report said.
Company and government officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the report Saturday.
The actions would be among the strictest in fighting online piracy.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy late last year outlined similar measures to disconnect Internet users who flagrantly violated copyright laws.
But for the most part, illegal downloading is being addressed through litigation against individuals.
The music industry won a first-of-a-kind victory in a US court in October when a single mother in Minnesota was ordered to pay more than 220,000 dollars for sharing 24 songs online.
The Yomiuri Shimbun estimated that 1.75 million people in Japan use file-sharing software, mostly to swap illegal copies.
One Internet service provider considered two years ago a plan to disconnect people who swap illegal files but dropped the plan after the government said it may violate the right to privacy, the Yomiuri said.
The best-known Japanese file-sharing software is called Winny, which allows users to swap games, movies and music online. It was developed by Isamu Kaneko, a young research assistant at the prestigious University of Tokyo who has become an Internet icon.
But in 2006 he was fined 1.5 million yen (15,000 dollars), although he was spared jail.
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