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Last Updated: Monday, 1 August 2005, 16:17 GMT 17:17 UK
Five face net music court action
music on computer
The BPI has settled more than 60 alleged piracy cases out of court
Record companies in the UK are taking their first court action against five people accused of illegally sharing music online.

The three men and two women made a total of 8,906 songs available over the internet, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) said in its civil case.

More than 60 alleged file-sharers have settled out of court in the UK, paying up to 6,500 each in compensation.

The BPI said it "cannot let illegal file-sharers off the hook".

The five alleged file-sharers live in King's Lynn, Crawley in West Sussex, Port Talbot, Brighton and South Glamorgan.

"We have tried to agree fair settlements, but if people refuse to deal with the evidence against them, then the law must take its course," said BPI general counsel Geoff Taylor.

"We will be seeking an injunction and full damages for the losses they have caused, in addition to the considerable legal costs we are incurring as a result of their illegal activity."

All five cases were the subject of a court order in March, which required internet service providers to name the holders of accounts used for illegal file-sharing.

They are undermining the legal services, they are damaging music and they are breaking the law
BPI chairman Peter Jamieson

So far more than 14,000 people in 12 countries have faced legal action for allegedly swapping music tracks online.

Continue to pursue

Legal music downloads are increasing in popularity, with more than 5.5 million tracks sold online in the UK in the second quarter of 2005 - a rise of 744% on the previous year.

Last month, digital music research firm The Leading Question found that people who illegally shared music files online spent four-and-a-half times more on paid-for music downloads than average fans.

Nevertheless, music industry trade groups such as the BPI have continued to pursue those who illegally download or make songs available over the internet.

"They are undermining the legal services, they are damaging music and they are breaking the law," said BPI chairman Peter Jamieson.

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