Music Chiefs Turn to Law to Stop Internet Downloading
Charles Arthur Technology Editor, The Independent (London, England)
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. …