The telecom and music industry bodies in Japan will reportedly implement a system to automatically check cell phone Web sites for illegal music files, in order to prevent the files from being uploaded or downloaded in breach of copyright law.

The system was designed by the Council for Countermeasures Against Mobile Music Piracy, a group set up in September, and comprised of the four major telecom operators, including NTT Docomo Inc., SoftBank Mobile Corp. and KDDI Corp., as well as music industry bodies such as the Recording Industry Assn. of Japan (RIAJ) and JASRAC.

According to newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, the new system will employ software that automatically runs checks from computer servers that scour cell phone Web sites, which are specifically designed for the cell phone system in Japan, to track down illegal music files. Checks of these Web sites must currently be done manually and the new system would exponentially speed up the identification of illegal files.

When unauthorized music files are discovered, music industry bodies such as RIAJ will request the files be deleted. If the site refuses to cooperate they risk being hit with a criminal compliant.

There has been no official comment on the plan.

The posting and downloading of music files without the copyright holders' permission is a major problem in Japan. RIAJ estimates that last year 400 million illegal music files were downloaded, exceeding the number of legal downloads by about 70 million.

The Council is considering further measures to combat illegal files that could include restrictions being built into cell phone handsets themselves.