Five set to face court over Internet music

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The Independent Online

The first formal court proceedings are being launched against music fans accused of illegally distributing music on the Internet, it was announced today.

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the UK's record industry's trade association, said it was lodging civil action against people who had refused to settle.

The lawsuits are being taken against five individuals who, between them, are accused of making 8,906 songs available to millions of people around the globe.

The BPI is claiming compensation and costs against three men and two women on behalf of record companies whose music has allegedly been uploaded on to peer-to-peer networks without permission.

The move against the five, from King's Lynn, Norfolk; Crawley, West Sussex; Port Talbot and South Glamorgan in south Wales and Brighton in East Sussex, follows out-of-court settlements of up to £6,500 with 60 UK Internet users.

BPI chairman Peter Jamieson said: "Music fans are increasingly tuning into legal download sites for the choice, value and convenience they offer.

"But we cannot let illegal filesharers off the hook. They are undermining the legal services, they are damaging music and they are breaking the law."

The BPI General Counsel Geoff Taylor said: "We have tried to agree fair settlements, but if people refuse to deal with the evidence against them, then the law must take its course.

"That's why we have had no choice but to take these five individuals to the High Court.

"We will be seeking an injunction and full damages for the losses they have caused, in addition to the considerable legal costs we are incurring as a result of their illegal activity."

The BPI says illegal filesharing was a key factor in the recording industry's 22% worldwide sales downturn between 1999 and 2004.