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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 June, 2004, 11:08 GMT 12:08 UK
Song-swappers settle out of court
Napster screenshot
The IFPI says music users must use legitimate download sites
Eighteen file-sharers in Europe have so far settled out of court as part of the music industry's legal action against 200 illegal song-swappers.

The International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI) began prosecuting in March.

Seventeen Danes and one German have settled at a cost of several thousand euros each.

In Italy 30 criminal cases are being brought against individuals by public prosecutors, the IFPI said.

An IFPI spokeswoman said that of the 88 Danish cases, another 23 were currently negotiating with authorities.

Cases are expected to start against the Italian defendants in the next couple of months, she said.

More litigation

Litigation had also been launched in Canada in March, but was currently on hold because of legal wrangles, she said.

More litigation against people who have downloaded or uploaded tracks were also announced on Tuesday, the first time since March.

"Individual countries have already said it is likely," she said. "France has already said it is more than likely, as had the UK."

The IFPI also said campaigns against illegal file-sharing had raised the awareness of people about the legality of sharing songs over the internet.

music online
Music downloading has been blamed for falling music revenues

In a survey it said that 70% of people were now aware that it was illegal to download tracks unless it was from a legitimate music site such as iTunes or Napster.

It also cited the use of instant messaging software - which people use to chat in real time over the internet - as an important step in getting its message across.

More than 23 million messages have been sent out to instant messenger users in nine countries, with 175,000 sent out in the UK, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) said on Tuesday.

The number of legal music downloads recently passed the 500,000 mark for 2004.

At the same time, the IFPI has said the amount of illegal music files swapped over the internet has dropped to 700 million a month - a 30% drop compared to this time last year.

"Today's results show that litigation, combined with the rollout of new legal online music services, is having a real impact on people's attitudes to illegal file-sharing," IFPI chairman Jay Berman said.

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