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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 September, 2003, 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK
Grandfather caught in music fight
Music download
The RIAA may offer to turn a blind eye if people promise to delete files
A grandfather has said he was wrongly accused of illegally downloading music online at the start of a legal campaign by the US music industry.

Durwood Pickle, 71, of Texas, said his teenage grandchildren used his computer during visits to his home.

"I didn't do it, and I don't feel like I'm responsible," he said.

Mr Pickle was among 261 individuals accused of sharing music files on the internet without permission.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has filed lawsuits in federal courts across the US on behalf of major record companies Universal, BMG, EMI, Sony and Warner Brothers.

HAVE YOUR SAY
It is the public and the artists that should be suing the RIAA and its members for anti-competitive, monopolistic practices
Martin, UK

It warns those found guilty that they face fines of up to $150,000 (100,000) per song swapped. Critics have accused the RIAA of being heavy-handed.

Yale University professor Timothy Davis, who was also named in the lawsuits, said he would stop sharing music files immediately.

Activities

He said he had downloaded about 500 songs before his internet provider notified him about the music industry's interest in his activities.

There are presently no plans to launch US-style legal actions internationally or in Europe
IFPI spokesman
Another defendant, Lisa Schamis of New York, said her internet provider warned her two months ago that record industry lawyers had asked for her name and address.

She said she had no idea she might be sued but acknowledged downloading "lots" of music over file-sharing networks.

RIAA president Cary Sherman said he hoped the legal action would prompt parents to pay more attention to potentially illegal activities by their children.

"We expect people to say 'It isn't me, it was my kid,' but someone has to take responsibility," Sherman said.

The music industry says file-sharing is a violation of copyright laws and blames the practice for a drop in CD sales worldwide.

The film industry also says it is being hit by online piracy but it has not yet announced it will be taking similar action.

But media analysts believe it is only a matter of time.

"There's no question other industries will do the same," said Latika Sharma, head of IT law practice at London-based law firm Landwell.

The global music industry trade body, the International Federation of Phonographic Industry (IFPI) said it will focus its efforts outside the US on education.

"There are presently no plans to launch US-style legal actions internationally or in Europe," a spokesman for the IFPI said.

He added: "But uploading copyrighted music is illegal, and for a good reason, and legal action against uploaders cannot be ruled out in the future."


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