Seven Japanese labels sent warning letters on Nov. 15 to Internet service providers demanding that they disclose the names of individuals who have allegedly used file-exchange software to upload unaut

TOKYO -- Seven Japanese labels sent warning letters on Nov. 15 to Internet service providers demanding that they disclose the names of individuals who have allegedly used file-exchange software to upload unauthorized music files to the Internet. It is believed to be the first such action in Japan.

The Recording Industry Assn. of Japan says the seven labels are Victor Entertainment, Universal Music, Toshiba-EMI, Warner Music Japan, Avex, Sony Music Records and Defstar (the latter two are part of Sony Music Entertainment Japan). The RIAJ issued a press release providing details of the action; it declined to reveal the names of the Internet service providers involved.

"If the ISPs don't cooperate, we will then consider the possibility of legal action," says an RIAJ spokesperson.

Since March, the RIAJ has sent warnings to some 4 million individuals suspected of illegally uploading files. The warnings were sent via the instant-messaging function of Japanese-language file-sharing program WinMX.

"As a result, we think that the majority of users now understand that it is illegal to upload music from commercially sold CDs without permission," the RIAJ says. "On the other hand, unfortunately, we have those individuals who persist in the mass uploading of music files without the rights owners' permission. Therefore RIAJ's member corporations were compelled to demand the disclosure of these individuals' names, for the purpose of seeking damages in court."