Euro orgs launch suits vs. music file-sharers

Industry bodies set to follow U.S. example

Action against illegal peer-to-peer file-sharers has begun in the U.K., Austria, Denmark, France, Germany and Italy.

Trade org the British Phonographic Industry said Thursday that it is beginning a rolling program of legal action against major file-sharers who illegally make copyrighted music available to millions of people across the world on peer-to-peer networks. Initially, 28 individuals are being targeted, but BPI says more cases will follow.

In a move mirroring the legal action taken against thousands of file-sharers by the Recording Industry Assn. of America, BPI is seeking damages and injunctions to stop the illegal uploading of recordings onto file-sharing networks.

The 28 large-scale uploaders reportedly include users of the Kazaa, Imesh, Grokster, Bearshare and WinMX networks.

“These are not people casually downloading the odd track. They are uploading music on a massive scale, stealing the livelihoods of thousands of artists and the people who invest in them,” said BPI chair Peter Jamieson.

BPI has spent months raising awareness about unauthorized file-sharing, and in March, it issued final warnings to persistent offenders, threatening legal action. It has sent more than 350,000 cease-and-desist instant messages to uploaders’ computers.

News comes the same day that global trade body the Intl. Federation of the Phonographic Industry announced 431 new legal actions against file-sharers in five other European countries.

The IFPI says defendants will face compensation payments averaging several thousand euros and adds that as a result of actions brought in March, more than 80 people in Germany and Denmark have so far handed over individual payments of up to S13,000 ($15,975).

More than 50 separate cases against individuals have been in preparation in France since June, according to the National Syndicate of Phonographic Publishers and the Civil Society of Phonographic Producers.

The maximum punishment under French law is three years in prison and a fine of $369,000. Those found guilty in a civil suit face a suspension or ban of their Internet subscriptions.

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