Ordinary punters who download bootleg copies of video games have been labelled terrorists by the leader of a prominent games industry copyright-protection body.

The harsh verdict comes from Yutaka Kubota, who is president of Japan's Association of Copyright for Computer Software, a trade body with close links to Nintendo.

Information terrorism

Speaking to Famitsu magazine, Kubota took particular issue with gamers who downloaded Nintendo DS titles to play on their own flash ROM cartridges.

"This is an issue that affects our national interests and, personally, I see it as a form of information terrorism that is crushing Japan's industry" he told the magazine.

120 million downloads

Nintendo says gamers have downloaded around 120 million bootleg - and, therefore, free - copies of its software to the end of 2007. Technically, there's nothing illegal about the activity in Japan, but that could change.

If currently pending legislation to criminalise downloading copied games passes in Japan its subsequent enforcement should provide pointers to how other countries might tackle the problem in future.