Japanese ISPs to Cut Service of File-sharers... Game Biz, Big Media Pressure Behind Move

March 15, 2008 -

Could it happen here?

AFP reports that Japanese Internet Service Providers will sever the Internet connection of those who illegally download files. It is said to be one of the strictest online piracy measures anywhere.

And the video game biz is right in the middle of it. From the AFP story:

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 [newspaper] said...

The Yomiuri Shimbun estimated that 1.75 million people in Japan use file-sharing software, mostly to swap illegal copies...

One [ISP] 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.

Japanese government officials were unable to be reached for comment by AFP.

GP: While we don't condone illegal file-sharing, ham-handed moves like this one just leave GP shaking his head. Internet connections are as ubiquitous - and as necessary - as telephone connections in developed nations. Would the Japanese government permit its citizens' phone service to be yanked out over pressure from Big Media?


I never like when governments do this kind of thing with anything, cause once you start its a slippery slope to other things that they'll take away from you. The analogy of phones and Internet works very well as they both revolutionized how we do things and both are equally necessary. The best they can ever do is try to upgrade their security to prevent piracy as much as possible, they're never gonna stop it cause as long as there is demand for something, there is demand for it free and somebody is gonna figure out how to give it to people free.

The only reliable way to detect piracy without violating privacy that I’m aware of involves deep packet inspection and that would slow down everyone’s internet.

I'm pretty sure that deep packet inspection is a violation of privacy. If you're looking at the contents of every packet I send, then for anything I send that isn't encrypted you might as well have a key logger installed on my computer.

I actually can see, why ISPs would agree - filesharers cause a lot more traffic than other people - given today's unlimited plans, the ISP can actually lose money on a heavy user. In Germany, a provider actually offered certain customers money to get rid of them. This seems like an excuse to dissolve a lot of unwanted contracts.

@Father Time:

If I were a content creator, and had made something so ludicrously poor that people got it just to laugh and show their friends, I might want to get compensation for that, too. ;-)

I would like to clarify I am not some big pirate but I like downloading things while I am in Japan because its not like I have access to them here. I want to watch the new seasons of my tv shows and catch up on movies. I still pay for and order all my games online though.

Well some of them do, because some (maybe one in a hundred) would have bought it if they couldn't get it for free... that means they are hurting the corporations bottom line...

So there is a problem, it would just be a hell of a lot smaller if the corporations didn't use draconian tactics and treat all of their customers as criminals...

I don't agree with this tactic. The UK is doing the same thing on a three strike basis.

The US is being pressured to do this as well. I hate this idea.

I think that we should ban all cars as people can use them to get away after a bank robbery, run people over, or use them for drive bys. The fact that people can use technology for evil purposes does not make the technology evil.

It would make more sense to cut the internet connection of those uploading files for sharing than of those downloading. You know, cutting it off at the source.

@ E.Zachery Knight
No the UK is not doing a similar thing, it was just a proposal and I doubt it will ever happen. British ISPs have allready made their position quite clear and they do not want to be responsible for monitoring their users.

Surprised it was allowed to happen in Japan, but there is plenty of room for customers to vote with their wallets and just move to another smaller ISP that does not wish to invade their privacy.

@ odc04r

Thanks for correcting me. I thought it was already in place or at least about to go into effect. But I guess I was wrong.

Every time I hear of something like this popping up, I think it's s stupid idea. The copyright mafia can barely prove right now who downloaded what. Cutting people's internet on such shaky proof is just going to draw people's ire. Not to mention that P2P means just that - peer to peer. The legality of the contents is a separate matter, that can't be determined simply from someone using a given protocol. Bittorrent for example has certainly become popular for some companies as a means of reducing their bandwidth use. Unless you start invading privacy someone downloading a copy of Open Office looks just like someone downloading the latest movie from a network traffic standpoint.

Then of course there's the growth of wireless networking, and public hot spots. Combined with a number of people that don't do a good job of securing them.

The bottom line is the whole idea is a recipe for corporate abuse, and invasion of privacy in a way that would usually require a warrant.

Looks like the RIAA has some competition in the "Evil" department...

"Would the Japanese government permit its citizens’ phone service to be yanked out over pressure from Big Media?"

More than likely. Exxon Moblie has the power to launch a Nuclear attack in the name of the White House, after all.

I understand why things like this happen. But at the same time I understand the stance to pirating and the hate for the RIAA.

This is a little too brutal.

Maybe i'm reading a different page here but it clearly states 'illegally download files' So good and i hoppe it does happen around the world.

I download Gigs and Gigs a day but i pay for the lot and its legal, why should others get it for free when i pay?

This may be a dumb question, but how do they know? Do they just go on torrent sites and pull the plug on that particular IP address?


Not true. You can never have too much Brutal. This however is complete piss-in-the-wind evil.

There are two obvious problems with this. The first is the invasion of provacy. They cannot know what you are downloading unless they are monitoring your activity.

The second problem is that it's not always readily apparent what is legal. Websites don't flash big warnings saying, "What you are downloading is illegal." Some music is freely shared by thier bands in order to gain a fanbase, while other bands firmly oppose file sharing. Many websites have free tv shows to watch, but is it ok to download anime fansubs? And bringing back to gaming, is it really illegal to download emulators and ROMs for old gaming systems that are no longer sold? (probably is, though this is one area where I don't agree with the law)

I imagine that a lot of Japanese customers are going to lose their ISP connections for doing something they didn't even know was wrong.

Though I will admit, this action does have parallels with other crimes. If you use a gun in a crime, you're never allowed to (legally) buy a gun again. If you shoplift in your local Walmart, you're no longer allowed to shop there. If you get caught drunk driving a few times, your license is revoked. If you download kiddie porn, you're not allowed to live anywhere near schools and parks.

Though I don't agree with Japan's new ISP policy, banning people for doing wrong is a time-honored practice.

@Bones --

While I don't condone illegal file sharing, this is heavy handed for a couple of reasons.

1) The only people who should have the right to punish for a crime would be law enforcement (or the judiciary in the case of a civil suit).
2) Even then, someone is allowed the right of due process (i.e. innocent until proven guilty). What happens if someone is falsely accused?

I bet this could have an effect on fansubs, oy. Now we'll have something to cry about when we can't see the latest episodes of Clannad, Bleach, or Hayate No Gotoku. This is a big Uguu~ for me.

It's not just japan, I live in PA and my isp harassed me about it too


Because the opption of downloading it for free is also available to you, you just choose to pay for it.

In all seriousness though not everyone is downloading gigs of stuff a day some are just downloading a few songs and that's it. Also the evidence saying that piracy does a lot of damage to the music industry is shaky (I read a study that says people download music they wouldn't be inclined to buy if they had to pay for it).

@ Father Time

That kind of logic is faulty. A lot of game pirates claim that it is ok for them to steal games because they weren't going to buy them anyway. The fact is, if you weren't going to buy it, then you don't need it. And if you don't need it, then you shouldn't go around stealing it for no good reason.

If a starving child steals some fruit from a vendor, it's still wrong but at least he has a good excuse. But when pirates download games (and music), they have no good excuse. Games and music are not necessities for life. If you aren't going to pay the people who produced it for you, then you shouldn't get to play it.

A better arguement for music file sharing is that it builds many independant bands a fanbase they otherwise wouldn't have. File sharing is one of the ways that small-time groups become famous.

I don't like the idea of them cutting off people's Internet access. While, like driving, I suppose that Internet access is a privilege and the ISPs have every right to refuse a person service, this just seems wrong. Especially since it can be difficult to prove illegal downloads without disrupting a person's privacy.

Shouldn't they at least give them a warning first?

@ Father Time

I've also heard that many people will download songs to sample a new CD and then, if they like it, buy it.

@ Father Time

I am with Are'el on this one. If you download a game or song, you obviously want it enough to go get it. So why not pay for it? Why keep it if it wasn't good enough to pay for?

I am fine with the idea of trying out an album or game before making a purchasing decision. But if you download a game and say to yourself, "Well it was okay, but not good enough to pay for. But I will keep it anyway." You are a freaking thief. If it is good enough to hang onto after downloading it, it is good enough to pay for.

If you don't like it or you don't think that it is worth the retail price, then trash the files. You shouldn't have it.

This is a bad idea and will only lead to screwing over the people.

May I suggest Steal this Film?


Part 1 is on that page as well. They are perfectly legal to download and such as they are made for free distribution. They are a sort of documentary of the issue.

God bless Canada... where file sharing is legal

"I download Gigs and Gigs a day but i pay for the lot and its legal, why should others get it for free when i pay?"

If there were legal alternatives, I'd use them. There aren't any. And that's the industry's own fault. I'm not talking about music, because that's an area that's serviced rather well with commercial download services.

What I download are television shows. If I could, I'd use iTunes more often, but that's only available in the US. So the only way to watch TV shows properly is the internet. Otherwise I need to wait years for them air here, if they're aired at all. Some of my favorite shows aren't and will never be shown overseas. That's combined with completely random schedules and lots of cancellations. Even if they air, they're dubbed, which is so bad that it makes my ears bleed.

I don't watch the shows on local stations, so no one actually loses any money. I still buy the DVDs of some shows when they come later. In fact I bought some shows that I would never have noticed if it weren't for downloading.

That's doesn't justify all downloads though. Movies and games are released almost at the same time, and it's easy to get a copy in the original language. Similar with music. But television is really a harmless area.

Someone mentioned emulators and roms somewhere up there.

There was a recent change to the DMCA, it now states something along the lines of 'if a digital item is no longer accessable through legitimate means, then the downloading of it is legal'.

Nintendo and Microsoft now offer virtual consoles, so downloading a rom for any game that is in their database is illegal.

Of course, if you have the cartridge for the game (broken or not), then it is also legal to download the rom for said game.

Lastly, if I recall correctly, it is legal to have any rom (that you don't own the cartridge for) for twenty-four hours.

The only reliable way to detect piracy without violating privacy (As if that matters to these type of people) that I'm aware of involves deep packet inspection and that would slow down everyone's internet.

I'll lay odds that sony are behind this. Not for any real reason, I just don't like them...

If they can do it without invading peeps' privacy (Say, they download an illegal torrent file and check all the IPs that are downloading or seeding), they're very careful to only do it when someone is DEFINITELY downloading stuff illegally, and they aren't silly about it and go after people for downloading old DOS games for instance, then I say fair enough. If people don't want to get into trouble, don't download things illegally.

Though like Sean says, surely it'd be better to only go after the uploaders, or at least make them the major priority?

Well DPI can be done automatically without any sort of human intervention and so that would be the way they'd get around privacy concerns. No humans look at it so there can't be any real privacy violation can there?

This won't stop people from downloading. It will make them start using Peerguardian so they stop getting caught.

Well I've no problem with cutting pirates off, they are thieves after all. I don't really care if people feel their internet connection is a modern necessity, that's no argument against crime. However, I'd not be happy to see my ISP spying on me (or anyone else for that matter), and I feel that is the real issue.

Two wrongs don't make a right, invading everyone's privacy to catch the guilty is simply not acceptable. IMHO if everyone is treated as a criminal then we've lost something very important as a society.


I agree with Gift. Yes they bad guys should be caught. (And the punishment here isn't too extreme)

But the only way I see this happening is an invasion of privacy. Which is just as bad as illegally copying files.

I'm very surprised this did not happen in the USA first-consumers here are getting their rights whittled away at a slow pace thanks to the copyright cartel, but it is consistent. Congress critters are all too happy taking lobbying money in exchange for corporate favors...

After reading the source of the News its apparent that the Japanese Government hasn't enforced this. That the ISP Companies have decided to do it. It also says that the last time they tried it the Government said no way... invasion of privacy. So we have to wait and see.

I don't know why the ISPs would agree to this... if they ban 1million ppl thats alot of money the ISPs are giving up.

Well the upside of living in Australia and having the ISP's charge per amount downloaded is that it's in their best interests to allow illegal torrenting to continue.

Not that I condone illegal downloading. Totally don't have like.... four... yeah that's right, four torrents running right now.

Yeah, this will work, um, until people use encrypted P2P... and then it fails, because you won't know if they're downloading illegally or not...

I mean it sounds great in theory, but first you'll have to catch people.


It is not quite that simple-encrypted P2P can be blocked at the port number. Some companies, and school districts already use "white lists" where they block everything BUT a selected group of port numbers, like port 25 for e-mail and essential services. Network devices have had the ability to block port numbers for years...and it depends on how much of a hard ass the ISP/organization wants to be, but encrypted P2P is not an automatic solution.


MAJOR problem with your theory.

"But if you download a game and say to yourself, “Well it was okay, but not good enough to pay for. But I will keep it anyway.” You are a freaking thief. If it is good enough to hang onto after downloading it, it is good enough to pay for."

The thing is though that we can hardly ever know how long they hold onto the games. Do they keep them indefinitely? Do they play them once then delete it? We don't know and piracy laws do not make that distinction.

Oh and of course
" If it is good enough to hang onto after downloading it, it is good enough to pay for"

Is entirely opinion. There are some films I would like to download precisely because they are VERY bad (and I do no mean hideously terrible). Why? Because how bad they are has been bragged to be the stuff of legend. One of them is a sequel and I need the prequel first the rest I still want to download just to see them. If I want to keep them afterwards to show them off to friends so be it. They certainly aren't making any more money off these bombs (and from what I hear most people don't sell them anyway).

Let's destroy the internet because big media claims that it is effecting its bottom line!

I see very little evidence to support this conclusion. Movies still make a ton of money at the movie theater. But somewhere some multimillionaire is claiming that he could've been a billionaire if it weren't for the big bad internet.

If the guys in the RIAA weren't too busy suing people who are likely also their customers, they would realize that most pirating is also a big hassle. Any business model that exploits the deficiencies of piracy should be implemented.

Well, aren't people's drivers licenses taken away when they break traffic laws, even though having a vehicle in most places is a necessity? (for the sake of argument I'm playing devil's advocate here)

@Father Time:

B-movies are awesome aren't they? Have you seen "Santa Claus Conquers The Martians"?

I usually use demos to test games out to see if I like them but sometimes they don't make a demo & I'm forced to resort to a "demo". They only stay on my system long enough to help me decide just how crap (or in those increasingly rare miracles, good) it is & make a purchase decision. I'd rent games but there's nowhere around here that does that anymore.

After I bought C&C Generals for full price & found that it was the single crappiest game I'd ever seen (and I had the early Star Trek games on C64 so I KNOW crap), I decided I'd never again make the mistake of buying something that had rave reviews but that I'd not seen much of. A mate of mine brought round COD4 for me to try, that stayed on for a few days and that saved me from dropping $90 on something I was tempted by but turned out to be a large bowl of fresh steamy poo.

This is why I love my ISP, Optimum Online.

When the RIAA/MPAA lawsuits came out, they sued back, saying it was a privacy issue, and won.

As a result, they do not give anybody any information on any filesharing. Even if an IP address is traced back, the still don't release it to anyone else.

The subscriber is sent a letter, telling them that they received a subpoena, but due to this suit, did not discose any info. They then mention what was in the subpoena, and that this is a violation of their ToS. 5 in 1 year can get you disconnected.

I live in Japan, and I was set to sign up with an ISP. I now know to check the contract and ask about this nonsense.

I live in Japan right now and I am really scared about this. I want more updates.

Am I safe downloading torrents? Are they just going after winny, and other japanese P2P programs? Will Peer Guardian protect me from my ISP spying on me?
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