In yet another example of the old-fashioned entertainment business failing to grasp the value of the internet in nourishing a fan base, a coalition of Japanese companies and organisations has taken YouTube to task for publishing their copyrighted material.

A letter sent to YouTube by the Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (JASRAC), and signed by 22 other bodies, asks the California-based firm to take the initiative in removing copyrighted video from its site. The move comes a few weeks after YouTube deleted 30,000 Japanese video clips after a previous JASRAC complaint.

YouTube's present copyright-protection system is reliant on rights holders discovering violations and asking for their property to be removed from the site.

JASRAC's demands include removing such content immediately, posting a warning message in Japanese on the home page of YouTube, provision of a list of names and addresses of anyone posting what it deems illegal material and a reply by 15 December.

Fear of the unknown

Putting aside JASRAC's ignorance of basic internet principles - YouTube doesn't necessarily have any real-world information about its users - the demands are clearly asinine. Anyone viewing clips of typically comic Japanese television, such as those here , here and here , will surely have one of two reactions.

To wit: assuming the clips go down well and are understood, viewers in Japan will obviously be inclined to tune into the TV shows in question for more, while viewers overseas will become fans who may one day be in a position to pay for the full shows.

Naturally, the latter requires the stick-in-the-mud production companies to get with the programme and sell their wares online, thereby making use of the very medium they clearly fear. J Mark Lytle