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International Dragnet Targets Illegal Music File-Sharing

Along with filing over 2,000 lawsuits, a music industry group has warned parents to watch over their children's online activities because they could face penalties.

K.C. Jones

April 4, 2006

2 Min Read

The music industry has filed nearly 2,000 new lawsuits, in its continuing fight against people who share music files without paying for them.

"This is a significant escalation in our worldwide campaign against illegal file-sharing," said John Kennedy, chairman and chief executive of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. "People who file-share illegally often claim to be music fans but in fact they are hurting investment in music, breaking the law and risking financial penalties by their actions. There have now been so many campaigns to educate people that file-sharing is wrong and illegal that there is simply no excuse for people to continue."

The IFPI announced the lawsuits Tuesday and warned parents to watch over their children's online activities because they could face penalties. A crackdown across the continent, and in Hong Kong, brought the number of legal actions against uploaders to more than 5,500 in 18 countries outside of the United States, according to the IFPI.

The group blames a 40 percent drop in the music business in Portugal on illegal file- sharing, specifically among college students. Some record labels, however, have defended music consumers against file-sharing lawsuits.

File-sharers in Denmark could be cut off by their Internet service providers, the IFPI said after a recent Supreme Court judgment determined that ISPs could be required to terminate service to customers who engage in illegal Internet use.

In Italy, more than 70 computers have been seized in evidence searches that encompassed about servers for thousands of people and 30 terabytes of shared music. The search also led to discovery of child pornography, the IFPI said through a prepared statement.

A German judge and a British local councilor are among those targeted in the sweep that stretches across the borders of several countries, including Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Italy, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland.

The IFPI said unauthorized peer-to-peer, or P2P, networks, including FastTrack (Kazaa), Gnutella (BearShare), eDonkey, DirectConnect, BitTorrent, Limewire, WinMX and SoulSeek, are also targeted in the lawsuits.

The organization is also warning parents to prevent their children from illegally accessing music files on the Internet by installing Digital File Check, a free software program available on the IFPI site. It also urges parents to read an Internet guide on young people and music, which has been translated into six languages and is available from ProMusic and Childnet International.

A recent research paper by the IFPI and Jupiter found that most people who stop illegally sharing music files do so out of fear of prosecution. The second-most common reason for stopping the practice is a fear of getting computer viruses, according to the paper.

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