For many young people, ordinary cell-phone ring tones and alarms are monotonous and boring. So they replace those tones with chaku-uta (literally “arriving music”), or musical ring tones downloaded from the Internet. But there is a problem: A large number of these ring tones are downloaded for free from illegal Web sites.

Uploading chaku-uta without a copyright holder’s consent is already illegal and punishable under the law. Last month a 28-year-old man who ran the illegal Dai San Sekai chaku-uta Web site was given a suspended prison term and fined ¥5 million by the Kyoto District Court. About 20,000 tunes were on his Web site. He had earned more than ¥120 million in ad revenue over three years. The government has submitted to the Diet a bill to revise the Copyrights Law, making chaku-uta downloads from unauthorized sources illegal, but the law does not impose penalties. The government aims to enforce the revision from Jan. 1, 2010.

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