Music industry files 8,000 new file-share lawsuits


LONDON -- Record industry trade body the IFPI on Tuesday said it is stepping up the fight against copyright theft as it revealed legal actions against thousands of music file sharers across the world.

The IFPI said there are more than 8,000 new cases in 17 countries including the first-ever cases against illegal file-sharing in South America and Eastern Europe, two of the globe's biggest markets.

A total of more than 13,000 legal actions have now been launched outside the U.S., the IFPI stated.

Legal actions are hitting users in Brazil, Latin America's largest market, where more than one billion music tracks were illegally downloaded last year. The territory has seen record company revenues nearly halved over a five-year period, dropping to $394.2 million last year from $724.7 million in 2000, the IFPI said.

The cases are being brought by ABPD, IFPI's Brazilian affiliate.

Mexico and Poland also are seeing legal action for the first time, while a another 14 countries have launched fresh lawsuits against illegal file-sharers.

More than 2,300 people already have paid the price for illegally file-sharing copyrighted material, with average legal settlements of 2,420 euros ($3,035), according to IFPI research.

The present wave of actions -- a combination of criminal and civil suits -- are aimed at "uploaders," people who have put hundreds or thousands of copyrighted songs onto Internet file-sharing networks and offered them to millions of people worldwide without permission from the copyright owners.

Major unauthorized P2P services include BitTorrent, eDonkey, DirectConnect, Gnutella, Limewire, SoulSeek and WinMX.

The actions are being taken in Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Singapore and Switzerland.

IFPI chairman and chief executive John Kennedy said in a statement that the legal options open to consumers are myriad now and, as a result, there are no excuses for illegal music file-sharing.

"Yet some people continue to consume their music illegally, refusing to respect the creative work of artists, songwriters and record producers," Kennedy said. "As a result, we reluctantly continue with our legal actions and today sees the latest escalation of that campaign to show that file-sharing copyrighted music does carry real legal risks -- apart from the risks to privacy and the risks from spyware and viruses."

The new wave of lawsuits comes at a time of significant change in the legal landscape for P2P networks, which has been witness to a series of court judgments across the world establishing the liability of P2P operators.