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Last Updated: Friday, 4 March, 2005, 14:46 GMT
Music industry 'nails UK pirates'
Fan listening to music
It was likely some parents settled for their children, the BPI said
The UK music industry has claimed victory in its first battle with illegal file-sharers after 23 people paid 50,000 to settle out of court.

The UK internet users, ranging from a student to a local councillor, have admitted putting out up to 9,000 songs each for other fans to download.

"These settlements show we can and we will enforce the law," the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) said.

The BPI has launched a second wave of cases, pursuing 31 more file-sharers.

BPI general counsel Geoff Taylor said: "We are determined to find people who illegally distribute music, whichever peer-to-peer network they use, and to make them compensate the artists and labels they are stealing from."

Some parents have been genuinely shocked to discover what their children have been up to
BPI
From the first wave, 17 men and six women aged between 22 and 58 have signed High Court undertakings admitting they illegally shared files and promising not to do it again, the BPI said.

The average compensation payment was 2,200 each, with one person paying 4,500.

Fifteen of the 23 used the Kazaa peer-to-peer network, four used Imesh, two used Grokster, one used WinMix and one was on BearShare.

Deterrent

The BPI said some were parents and it was "highly likely" they settled on behalf of their children.

"Some parents have been genuinely shocked to discover what their children have been up to," the organisation, which represents major record companies in the UK, said.

We have no desire to drag people through the courts
Geoff Taylor
BPI general counsel
The compensation payments will go back to music copyright holders. The music industry sees illegal downloading as theft and has blamed it for falling CD sales.

The BPI said its cases were more about "deterrence than compensation". The UK action follows thousands of lawsuits against "pirates" in the US.

The BPI said the global campaign led to a 45% decline in activity on the most popular file-sharing network, Fast Track, which is used by Kazaa, since its peak in April 2003.

Since then, legal alternatives such as Apple's iTunes and the new incarnation of Napster have also sprung up and become popular with fans.

'Fair settlements'

Three more alleged file-sharers are still in negotiations with the BPI and those cases may go to court.

Mr Taylor said: "We have no desire to drag people through the courts. So we have attempted to reach fair settlements where we can.

"We hope people will now begin to get the message that the best way to avoid the risk of legal action and paying substantial compensation is to stop illegal file-sharing, and to buy music online, safely and legally, instead."

In October, the BPI announced it was pursuing 28 people. But they related to 28 IP addresses and it was later discovered that two people accounted for four IP addresses on their list.


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