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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 November 2005, 12:00 GMT
Legal fight hits 'music pirates'
music on computer
Nearly 20,000 file-sharers have been targeted since 2003
The global recording industry has launched its largest wave of legal action against people suspected of sharing music files on the internet.

The latest move targeted 2,100 alleged uploaders using peer-to-peer (P2P) networks in 16 nations including the UK, France, Germany and Italy.

File-sharers in Switzerland, Sweden, Argentina, Singapore and Hong Kong are also facing cases for the first time.

Thousands of people have agreed to pay compensation since the campaign began.

The number of cases brought by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) outside the US since March 2004 now stands at more than 3,800.

In the US, civil lawsuits have been brought against more than 15,597 people since September 2003 and there have been 3,590 settlements.

'Significant escalation'

The IFPI said users of P2P networks including FastTrack, Gnutella, eDonkey, DirectConnect, BitTorrent, WinMx and SoulSeek were facing action.

REGIONS TARGETING FILE-SHARERS
Argentina, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, US

"This is a significant escalation of our enforcement actions against people who are uploading and distributing copyrighted music on p2p networks," said IFPI chief John Kennedy.

"Thousands of people - mostly internet-savvy men in their 20s or 30s - have learnt to their cost the legal and financial risks involved in file-sharing copyrighted music in large quantities."

Court rulings

Individual cases are generally brought by the national associations representing the recording industry, and in some cases by the labels, as civil complaints.

In some nations, including Italy and Sweden, file-sharers are subject to criminal prosecutions.

The UK record industry has so far brought 97 cases, with a further 65 covered by the latest action.

More than 140,000 in compensation has been paid to the British Phonographic Industry by 71 individuals. Those who fail to resolve cases face civil court action.

The IFPI announcement comes after court rulings in the US, Australia and South Korea found P2P services can also be held liable for downloading by their users.

Earlier this month, US file-sharing group Grokster agreed to halt distributing its software to settle a long-running copyright case launched by the entertainment industry.




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