Music file-sharers face biggest round of legal actions yet; many are already counting the cost
London, April 12, 2005
The biggest wave of legal actions against internet music file-sharers was announced today, with new cases launched against 963 individuals in 11 countries across Europe and Asia.
Today's actions extend the policy of suing alleged illegal file-sharers to four new countries in Europe - Netherlands, Finland, Ireland and Iceland. They join Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and the UK, who all began litigation in the last year.
The first Asian country to take legal action, Japan, has also announced today that it is joining the battle against online music piracy. The Japanese market has been hit hard by internet piracy and other factors in recent years losing 30% of its value (200 billion yen or US$1.8 billion) between 2000 and 2004.
The new wave of lawsuits, coordinated by IFPI on behalf of its more than 1,450 member record companies, affects users not just of the KaZaA network (KaZaA, KaZaA Lite, iMesh), but also those on newer file-sharing services including eDonkey and eMule, various Gnutella services (Bearshare, Limewire, OpenNap, WinMX and Winny, DirectConnect, and BitTorrent.
Caught: a German judge, a French cook, a British councillor
One year after the recording industry first launched criminal and civil lawsuits against offenders in Europe, 248 people have faced sanctions or paid fines or compensation averaging more than €3,000 each. They are predominantly city-dwelling men aged 20-35, in occupations from company directors to car salesmen and teachers to truck-drivers.
Those who are paying the price of piracy include a German judge, a French cook and a British local councillor. They have all uploaded top chart hits, in numbers ranging from a few hundred to tens of thousands.
9,900 cases have been brought to date in the US. This brings the total number of lawsuits to have been launched internationally to 11,552.
Campaign makes an impact
IFPI also showed latest evidence that campaign is having an impact. The number of music files downloaded in Germany fell sharply in 2004, down 35% to 382 million files compared to 602 million the previous year. The German music market has suffered worst from illegal file-sharing, and seen more legal actions, than any other country in Europe. The survey of 10,000 respondents was conducted by GFK on behalf of IFPI Germany in March.
KaZaA, which used to be the largest and most popular file-sharing service, has seen its user figures drop by approximately 45% (from 4.2 million to 2.3 million concurrent users) since the start of the warning and litigation campaign.
More waves of legal actions in more countries will follow, IFPI warned today. Industry bodies in Spain and Sweden - both heavily hit by piracy with falls in sales of 12.5% and 18% in the last year - are sending instant message warnings to people who appear to be distributing music illegally on file-sharing networks. To date, a total of more than 12 million such warnings have been sent to individuals on file-sharing services in 12 countries outside the US.
Further evidence of the impact of the campaign includes:
John Kennedy, IFPI Chairman and CEO said: "One year of lawsuits, which were taken to stop the theft of music, is not a particularly joyous anniversary to be celebrating. But when you look at the impact the campaign has had over the last year, there are good reasons to be optimistic.
"Today, people across Europe can be in no doubt that uploading copyrighted music on to file-sharing networks is against the law, affects jobs, investment in music and livelihoods, and carries the risk of financial penalties. We have spent two years raising public awareness of this, and ignorance really is no longer an excuse.
"Around the world, people sued come from all walks of life. We didn't choose them - they chose themselves by the extent of their uploading. It doesn't give me any pleasure to say that some offenders have had to pay substantial damages. However they ignored all the warnings, and have regretted it since. I hope that people are learning from the experiences of those who decided not to buy their music legally.
"And there can be no doubt the campaign is having an impact. File-sharing is being contained: traffic on P2P networks which would have spiralled out of control a year ago has, in fact, began to slow down. Meanwhile legal ways of enjoying music online have taken off. People have begun to explore and enjoy the legal online music market in earnest."
The profile of 248 European file-sharers:
The online music pirate comes in many guises. IFPI's first analysis of the litigation targets shows the following:
For further information please contact Adrian Strain, Julie Harari or Fiona Harley at
Notes to editors
IFPI is the organisation that promotes the interests of the international recording industry worldwide. Its membership comprises over 1450 major and independent companies in more than 75 countries. It also has affiliated industry national groups in 48 countries. IFPI's mission is to fight music piracy; promote fair market access and good copyright laws; help develop the legal conditions and the technologies for the recording industry to prosper in the digital era; and to promote the value of music.