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Japanese mobile operators shout 'Avast' at piracy

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The Japanese are considering forcing packet inspection on mobile networks in order to identify, and disconnect, copyright infringing pirates.

The plan requires all network operators to monitor downloads for copyrighted material. If dodginess is discovered a warning would be issued to the user, and if they persisted then their phone could be disconnected or simply rendered unable to play music.

The news comes from Daily Yomiuri, which reports that the matter is to be discussed next Wednesday by the Recording Industry Association of Japan and the Telecommunications Carriers Association, along with representatives from the Internal Affairs ministry and other affected companies.

The Japanese mobile market is radically different from the rest of the world: handsets are branded, supplied and managed by network operators, while fulfilling the role of "personal computer" in the lives of many Japanese. Illegal downloading direct to a mobile phone may be a rare thing in the West, but around 330 million tracks are sold annually in Japan, for over-the-air delivery, compared to the 400 million that are reckoned to be downloaded illegally.

The new proposals are particularly concerning, as when "discussions" start in Japan it often means the decisions have already been made - not to mention that the newly-elected Democratic Party of Japan needs to make industrial friends as it tries to pursue its slightly-more-left-wing agenda. ®

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