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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 February, 2004, 10:12 GMT
US steps up online piracy fight
Hundreds of individuals have been targeted in the US crackdown
The US record industry has sued another 531 people in its continuing campaign against online music piracy.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) filed five legal cases against users of internet service providers for copyright infringement.

The legal process is known as "John Doe" because the identities of the alleged offenders are not yet known.

The RIAA, acting for the world's major record labels, filed similar cases against 532 individuals in January.

It has been unable to sue individuals by name since mid-December, when an appeal court ruled that internet service providers did not have to respond to subpoenas.

The latest round of legal actions was filed in federal courts in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Orlando and Trenton, New Jersey.

Artists 'cheated'

The RIAA said it had begun issuing subpoenas to learn the identities of 333 file-sharers targeted in last month's cases.

During the past few years, record labels and musicians such as Metallica and Sheryl Crow have campaigned against file-sharing services such as Napster and Kazaa.

Critics say such sites have contributed to plummeting CD sales and cheated artists out of royalties by letting people swap music for free.

However, music sales monitor Nielsen SoundScan has reported that US album sales so far in 2004 are up 10.4% from the same period a year earlier.

On Tuesday it was announced that Canada, encouraged by the US success, had joined the online piracy fight with plans to sue 29 alleged offenders.

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