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Last Updated: Friday, 12 September, 2003, 10:56 GMT 11:56 UK
Lawsuits 'not scaring swappers'
Music download
The RIAA filed 261 lawsuits against individuals
Music-swapping on the internet has not slowed despite a flurry of lawsuits, according to industry trackers.

The Recording Industry Association of America has filed lawsuits against 261 US individuals, claiming they have illegally downloaded and shared music.

The move is part of the industry's attempts to stop people illegally swapping copyrighted songs on the web.

But research firm BigChampagne, which monitors the peer-to-peer networks which file-swappers use, said the scare had not worked.

"There's no mass exodus, that's safe to say. Ironically, usage this week and this month is up," said Eric Garland, a spokesman for BigChampagne.

He said that the monitoring of the Fast Track network, which is used by file-sharing services Kazaa and Grokster, saw that figures had increased.

"The number of people using these file sharing services in the first 10 days of September is up more than 20 percent from the August average," said Mr Garland.

Stimulate conversation

The company says that more than four million people used the more popular services.

Brianna LaHara
Brianna LaHara settled her lawsuit with the RIAA
The RIAA said it did not "put much stock" in the estimated figures.

"Clearly our enforcement efforts have stimulated conversation among parents, children and many others about the illegality of distributing copyrighted music online and its consequences," said an RIAA spokesman.

"The objective here is to create an environment where legitimate online services can grow and thrive," he added.

Mr Garland said he expects some people will be scared by potential exposure and increased parental pressure.

"But what we're hearing from users is they enjoy safety in numbers," he said.

"There's a perception that suing even a few thousand means the odds of getting sued are like the odds of getting struck by lightning."

Meanwhile, several internet music services have offered to pay the $2,000 (1,255) fine paid by the mother of 12-year-old Brianna LaHara to settle the lawsuit the RIAA had filed against the girl.

Grokster president Wayne Rosso, a member of the peer-to-peer services trade group P2P United, said he felt the RIAA were acting like "bullies" by targeting a young girl, which is why it was offering to pay the money.

"It seems fitting that P2P United is willing to pay Brianna's settlement fees since it was their members who induced her infringement in the first place," said an RIAA spokesman.


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