Monday, March 17, 2008

Japanese ISP's Goes Against P2P Users

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The nation's four Internet provider organizations have agreed to forcibly cut the Internet connection of users found to repeatedly use Winny and other file-sharing programs to illegally copy gaming software and music, it was learned Friday.

The move aims to deal with the rise in illegal copying of music, gaming software and images that has resulted in huge infringements on the rights of copyright holders.

Resorting to cutting off the Internet connection of copyright violators has been considered before but never resorted to over fears the practice might involve violations of privacy rights and the freedom of use of telecommunications.

The Internet provider organizations have, however, judged it possible to disconnect specific users from the Internet or cancel provider contracts with them if they are identified as particularly flagrant transgressors in cooperation with copyright-related organizations, according to sources.

The four organizations include the Telecom Service Association and the Telecommunications Carriers Association. About 1,000 major and smaller domestic providers belong to the four associations, which means the measure would become the first countermeasure against Winny-using rights-violators used by the whole provider industry.

They organizations plan to launch a consultative panel, possibly in April, together with copyright organizations including the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers and the Association of Copyright for Computer Software. They will then begin making guidelines for disconnecting users from the Internet who leak illegally copied material onto the Net.

The number of users of file-sharing software such as Winny in the country is estimated to be about 1.75 million, with most of the files exchanged using the software believed to be illegal copies.

A brief six-hour survey by a copyright organization monitoring the Internet found about 3.55 million examples of illegally copied gaming software, worth about 9.5 billion yen at regular software prices, and 610,000 examples of illegally copied music files, worth 440 million yen, that could be freely downloaded into personal computers using such software, the sources said. In other words, this survey alone, uncovered damages amounting to 10 billion yen.

Two years ago, a major Internet provider tried to introduce a measure to disconnect users from the Internet whenever the company detected the use of Winny or other file-sharing software.

However, the provider abandoned the idea after receiving a warning from the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry that such an approach was regarded as Internet snooping and might violate the right to privacy in communications.

According to the new agreement, copyright organizations would notify providers of Internet protocol addresses used by those who repeatedly make copies illegally, using special detection software. The providers would then send warning e-mails to the users based on the IP addresses of the computers used to connect to the Internet. If contacted users did not then stop their illegal copying, the providers would temporarily disconnect them from the Internet for a specified period of time or cancel their service-provision contracts.
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