Pirated music may cripple Japanese phones
The music industry, the Japanese government and telecoms are reportedly working together on a way to disable phones with pirated music on them.
The system would check all downloaded music files against a database for verification. If the file ID doesn’t match the database, the phone user is sent a warning message. Repeated offenders could have music playback functionality removed from their phones, or at least have the infringing downloads removed.
According to the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, a council wil be formed on September 16 to start developing the plan, which could go into effect by fiscal 2010.
In Japan, some mobile phone owners use Internet bulletin boards to pull down illegal music files. It’s not clear how many people do this instead of purchasing music legally, but Yomiuri says roughly 400 million songs per year are downloaded illegally from cell phones, compared to roughly 330 million legal downloads. Given that a track costs about $3.2 legally, the music industry has no doubt argued that it’s losing over $1 billion per year.
Of course, there are a couple major holes in the deactivation plan. First and foremost, cell phone manufacturers are notably absent from the list of collaborators. It seems unlikely that they would willingly participate, and I’m not sure the government would be able to force it upon them, at least not without a fight. Besides, any measure like this isn’t likely to drive piracy away. A cell phone user could always download music to a computer and then transfer it offline, making authentication that much harder.
Whatever happens in Japan, I seriously doubt this plan would ever make it to the United States or any other country where telecoms are less cooperative with the music industry. For that matter, I don’t think the U.S. government would be keen on micromanaging the functionality of cell phones. At least, I hope not.
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