Add Japan to the list of countries cracking down on illegal file sharing over the Internet. Amid ongoing pressure (not surprisingly) from the record and movie industries, the country’s four major Internet service provider organizations have agreed to cut off web access to those who repeatedly engage in illegal file-sharing.
The agreement would see copyright holders tracking down file-sharers on the Internet using “special detection software” and then notifying ISPs of alleged infringers. Similar to three strikes initiatives enacted in France and proposed in the United Kingdom, file sharers will initially receive a warning for a first offense and then be disconnected for a subsequent offense. For persistent breaches, the ISP would terminate the accounts of its subscribers permanently.
Somehow I see this as bad news for the Internet as a whole. Though I don’t encourage piracy, I also don’t like the idea of ISPs becoming traffic cops. But once a group of interests such as entertainment industry is allowed to block content as it sees fit, soon others will push for ISPs to filter out content they deem illegal or even socially unacceptable.