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Thursday, 15 February, 2001, 17:46 GMT
Police investigate Belgian Napster fans
Napster-alike montage BBC
Napster is one of many ways to swap music on the web
Belgian police have raided the homes of users of music-sharing websites looking for evidence they broke copyright laws.

The searches came as part of an inquiry into internet site mp3blast.com, but a spokesman said four cases against Napster users were under review.

Police searched the home of one suspect in late December, and completed two more raids in January.

The Belgian record industry said it had tracking equipment which could search for users "by the thousands".

'Warned'

Marcel Heymans, director general of the Belgian branch of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, said he warned police of the alleged copyright infringements.

He said the group was targeting users who "had been clearly warned yet persevered with the practice".

On Wednesday, the European Parliament backed tougher rules to give artists and record labels more protection for their works downloaded from the internet.

The legislation will now go before the EU's Council of Ministers for final approval.

A US court effectively closed down Napster in a ruling earlier this week.

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