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The Motion Pictures Association of America has sent warning letters to Israeli Internet suppliers, demanding that they take steps against Israeli surfers who illegally download files.

Officials at ACTCOM - Internet Services in Israel confirmed yesterday that the organization received warnings along those lines last week. It has contacted identified Internet surfers, and tried to persuade them to not use programs that enable them to download files illegally.

At this stage, the MPAA is not threatening legal action against the Internet service companies, or against individual surfers. Yet the warning letters mark a first: The MPAA has never before demanded that Israeli Internet service suppliers take specific steps against their own clients.

An official from one of Israel's largest Internet suppliers said yesterday that the type of file downloading in question represents more than 50 percent of Internet activity in the country.

"Regular surfing on Internet sites constitutes just 10 percent of activity on the net," he said. "It's a mistake if anyone thinks that I can do anything about this phenomenon of downloading files. If any company or association has a problem with any of my clients or surfers, it should go to the courts"