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Int'l record industry files against music pirates


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International record industry launches more lawsuits against music pirates

LONDON (AP) - The international record industry launched thousands more lawsuits around the world Tuesday against individuals it accuses of illegally downloading and sharing digital music, ranging from a Finnish laboratory assistant to a German clergyman.


The new wave of legal action by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, or IFPI, encompasses 8,000 cases in 17 countries, including its first legal forays into South America and Eastern Europe.

The actions, a combination of criminal and civil suits, are aimed at "uploaders" - people who have put hundreds or thousands of copyrighted songs onto Internet file-sharing networks and offered them to millions of people worldwide without permission from the copyright owners.

The industry estimates that such illegal file-sharing has cost it billions of dollars in lost revenue.

The London-based IFPI, which represents 1,450 member record companies around the world, said many of the people targeted are the parents of children who have been illegally sharing music files.

The music industry has been criticized for targeting individual Internet users in its legal warfare against piracy instead of the Internet Service Providers, or ISPs, that host file-swapping sites.

The ISPs are harder to pursue legally because they can claim they have no knowledge of any piracy occurring on their networks, and IFPI Chairman John Kennedy made no apology Tuesday for the industry's approach.

"Around the world many people have already paid a heavy price for their illegal file-sharing," Kennedy said. "They all thought they were unlikely to be caught, but teachers, postal workers, IT managers, scientists and people in a host of other occupations, as well as parents, have ended up having to dig deeply into their pockets."

"There is no excuse," he added. "People should understand that they can be caught whatever network they are using."

The legal action was extended for the first time to Brazil, where the IFPI said more than one billion music tracks were illegally downloaded last year and where record company revenues have almost halved - to $395 million last year from $724.7 million in 2000. Mexico and Poland are also seeing lawsuits for the first time against illegal file-sharing.

The IFPI said more than 2,300 people have already been fined or paid compensation averaging just under US$3,100.

The countries included in the new wave of lawsuits include Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Singapore and Switzerland.

The IFPI said it targeted uploaders using all the major unauthorized peer-to-peer services, including BitTorrent, eDonkey, DirectConnect, Gnutella, Limewire, SoulSeek and WinMX.

It added that it was heartened by a series of court judgments around the world in recent months that it said establishes the liability of P2P operators for infringement that they facilitate or promote and from which they benefit.


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