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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 January, 2004, 11:21 GMT
Activist slams song-swap battle
Computer user with CD
Swapping music over P2P networks is blamed for falling CD sales
A leading peer-to-peer activist has slammed the music industry for its approach to illegal file-swapping.

Wayne Rosso, founder of US trade group P2P United, said the sharing of music on the net had not hurt the music industry as much as it had claimed.

But British Phonographic Industry (BPI) chief Andrew Yeates said it was vital to the music business that copyright holders were protected online.

Talks with European net providers to find major song-swappers are underway.

'Hearts and minds'

Recent changes in European copyright legislation had helped to stem what Mr Yeates saw as one of the biggest threats to the music industry, he told the Internet Service Providers' Association (Ispa) Parliamentary Forum.

The biggest battle, he said, was winning the "hearts and minds" of net users and raising awareness about file-swapping over the net and copyright infringements.

But Mr Rosso, former head of the Grokster network, claimed the recording industry is not doing enough to find alternative ways of making use of peer-to-peer technology, which offered many opportunities for the music business.

We are looking at opportunities to say where people are committing a criminal offence, we should be able to gather evidence about them
Andrew Yeates, BPI
He urged the recording industry to talk more to organisations like P2P United in order to come up with effective solutions.

Licensing music tracks shared over networks could be a better tactic for the industry, instead of criminalising file-swappers, he suggested.

He argued that the music industry had a history of opposing new technologies and that it was using copyright as a "weapon".

"The recording industry does not understand the technology. All they want to do it is kill it.

"They want you to believe that all their problems are due to peer-to-peer technology," he said.

Mr Yeates denied this was the case, and said peer-to-peer was just one of the problems facing their business.

The European music industry is trying to find ways of making use of industry-backed peer-to-peer services.

"We are a business that is passionate about music," he said.

"We want the ability to run an effective business and get a return on our investment."

Balancing act

Mr Yeates said important lessons had been learned from the legal action the RIAA had taken (Recording Industry Association of America) in targeting individual file-swappers in the US.

But, he said, it was important to make the legal framework already in place in the UK work more effectively.

"The RIAA proved a number of things, and created the awareness of illegality," he said.

He added that efforts were continuing to make sure there was a "balance of responsibility" between net service providers and the music industry, within a more refined and harmonised legal framework in the UK.

"We are looking at opportunities to say where people are committing a criminal offence, we should be able to gather evidence about them."

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