The Japanese government is to ease copyright laws in a bid to make more television programs available via the internet.

Currently, the rules require broadcasters to pay fees to all copyright holders in a TV program - such as record companies, singers and others - after the program is aired.

But broadcasters and ISPs must also receive permission from all actors, performers and copyright holders for other items, before the program can be shown online.

Those in the industry have long complained that such bureaucracy has stifled the spread of television over the internet in Japan.

The government's Intellectual Property Strategy Headquarters, led by prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, plans to redefine the distribution of TV programs through fiber-optic cables and broadband services, as "wired broadcasting".

Under that definition, digital terrestrial broadcasts will simultaneously become available over the internet because broadcasters and ISPs will be allowed to obtain permission from the copyright holders after the programs are shown.

Data sourced from Asahi Shimbun Online; additional content by WARC staff