Music chiefs turn to law to stop internet downloading

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The Independent Culture

The music industry is to sue 28 people in London and the South-east alleged to have illegally swapped music over the internet, mimicking tough legal action in the United States which saw a 12-year-old girl sued for downloading songs.

The music industry is to sue 28 people in London and the South-east alleged to have illegally swapped music over the internet, mimicking tough legal action in the United States which saw a 12-year-old girl sued for downloading songs.

The International Federation of Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has begun legal proceedings to identify the 28 people, along with more than 400 others across Europe, claiming they illicitly made thousands of popular songs available online over what are known as file-swapping networks.

The file-swapping services allow people who belong to them to swap the copyrighted music, and other files, directly between their computers.

Lawsuits against file-sharing networks such as KaZaA and Gnutella have failed because they have a legitimate use for trading uncopyrighted material. So the record business is going after users - particularly those who make large numbers of files available.

"We are taking this action as a last resort and we are doing it after a very long public awareness campaign," said Jay Berman, the IFPI chairman. "Now, finally, we are at the point where the law has to be enforced. People who love music should buy it online and not swap files illegally."

As a precursor to action against the file-swappers themselves, the IFPI will this week begin civil proceedings to force internet service providers to provide details of people whose computers are presently only identifiable by an "IP address" - a numeric internet identifier unique to the offending machine.With 8.3 million people going online at any one time to access 700 million files - representing the total number of downloads available to sharers - the scale of illegal file-sharing dwarfs that of legal download sites such as Apple's iTunes Music Store and Napster which see about a million tracks downloaded per month from a catalogue of a million songs

The IFPI said yesterday that in a recent survey, 36 per cent of users of file-sharing networks said they bought less music as a result. However, that leaves two-thirds who either buy the same amount or more.

Other research has found no link between falling sales and file-sharing, and suggested falling sales were due to economic conditions, fewer ,new releases and physical piracy.

Sales of recorded music around the world have risen recently without any noticeable change in the amount of file-sharing going on. The IFPI said yesterday that the number of files offered online had fallen from a billion in June 2003 to 700 million in June 2004.

Criminal and civil court cases are being filed against 50 alleged uploaders in France, 100 in Austria, 174 in Denmark, and 100 in Germany. In Italy, home to one of the toughest copyright protection laws in the world, police have raided the premises of seven alleged large-scale file-sharers.

Similar legal action in the US sparked controversy when a 12-year-old schoolgirl was one of those sued for illegally downloading music.

THE TOP TEN SWAPPED SONGS

1 Usher, My Boo

2 Ciara, Goodies

3 Maroon 5, She Will Be Loved

4 Nelly, My Place

5 Akin, Locked Up

6 Lil' Flip, Sunshine

7 Green Day, American Idiot

8 Linkin Park, Breaking The Habit

9 LL Cool J, Headsprung

10 Trick Daddy, Let's Go

For week 27 September to 4 October 2004; Source: Big Champagne

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