Japanese labels have begun issuing warnings to individuals using peer-to-peer services to upload music files without authorization.

Japanese labels have begun issuing warnings to individuals using peer-to-peer services to upload music files without authorization.

Local labels body the Recording Industry Assn. of Japan (RIAJ) is sending the warnings via the instant messaging (IM) function of Japanese-language file-sharing program WinMX.

The notice, addressed to "you who love music," informs the user that he or she has uploaded a song controlled by an RIAJ member company and that making it available for distribution via a P2P network infringes the company's neighboring rights.

An RIAJ spokesman says that file uploaders are being targeted because Japan's Copyright Law clearly states that the right to make copyrighted material "transmittable" belongs solely to the original rights holders.

Its warning includes a link to a section of the RIAJ Web site explaining in detail why file-sharing -- even on a non-profit basis -- violates Japan's Copyright Law. The site notes explain that violators of that law can be punished by up to three years in prison or a fine of up to ¥3 million ($26,400).

The RIAJ says that by the end of May it will have sent out more than 1 million such notices to file uploaders in Japan.

The association also says it is preparing to take legal action against "certain malicious users."

At deadline, published news reports suggested Japanese police have arrested 33-year-old Isamu Kaneko, the developer of the popular Winny P2P software.

The RIAJ's campaign marks the first time the Japanese music industry has zeroed in on individual file-sharers. In January 2003, the RIAJ won a key legal victory that forced Tokyo-based online file-sharing service MMO Japan to stop distributing a Japanese-language version of the "File Rogue" software. It was the first-ever legal action against an online file-sharing music service in Japan.

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