Combating Phone Piracy

The Japanese government has announced it will work closely with the nation’s telecom and music industries to introduce a system that would prevent mobile phone users from downloading illegally distributed music.

Discussions about designing and enacting the new system began Sept. 16 between the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, the Recording Industry Association of Japan, the Telecommunications Carriers Association and other concerned bodies.

Japan’s cell phone music download market is the biggest in the world, estimated at ¥100 billion ($1.1 billion) in 2007.

In recent years, the market has been seriously undermined by illegal downloading. In such cases, users usually download illegal files for free from Internet bulletin boards set up exclusively for cell phones.

About 400 million songs are downloaded illegally onto cell phones per year. In contrast, the number of legitimate downloads to cell phones is about 70 million per year. Legal downloads cost about 300 yen ($3.30) per track.

With the system being discussed, a song’s ID information is sent from the user’s cell phone to a separate server when the song is downloaded.

If the server determines that the music file is being distributed illegally, it will send a warning message to the user’s cell phone.
If the user persists in downloading illegal music, the server may render the user’s cell phone incapable of playing music.