Biggest wave of actions yet announced against illegal file-sharing
November 15, 2005
The recording industry today unveiled the biggest escalation yet in its campaign against illegal internet file-sharing, announcing over 2,100 new legal cases against individuals and extending the actions to five new countries in Europe, Asia and - for the first time - South America.
File-sharers in Sweden, Switzerland, Argentina, Hong Kong and Singapore are for the first time at risk of criminal penalties and payment of damages in an international campaign that has already seen thousands of people - the majority of them young men between the ages of 20 and 30 - pay sums of US$3,000 or more for uploading copyrighted music on peer-to-peer networks (p2p).
This latest wave of cases, covering actions launched today or brought in recent months, takes the total number of legal actions against uploaders to over 3,800 in 16 countries outside the US. This is the fourth wave since the international campaign began in March 2004, and it targets users of all the major unauthorised p2p networks, including FastTrack (Kazaa), Gnutella (BearShare), eDonkey, DirectConnect, BitTorrent, WinMX, and SoulSeek.
The move comes just one week after the landmark settlement between the p2p service Grokster and the US music industry. It also follows a series of court rulings in the last few months which firmly establish that unauthorised p2p services, as well as their users, can be held liable for music piracy. There have been key judgments in three continents since June - against Grokster in the US, Kazaa in Australia, Soribada in Korea and Kuro in Taiwan.
Announcing the latest wave of actions at a press conference in Stockholm today, IFPI Chairman and CEO John Kennedy said: "This is a significant escalation of our enforcement actions against people who are uploading and distributing copyrighted music on p2p networks. For the first time there will be financial and criminal sanctions for this activity in countries in South East Asia and Latin America. This reflects the sharply rising levels of internet piracy in those regions. The message today is that, from Sweden to Hong Kong and from Singapore to Argentina, there are no havens for the theft of music on the internet.
"In the last two years, by extending these legal actions to a total of 17 countries, the music industry has helped change the perception of music on the internet. Thousands of people - mostly internet-savvy men in their twenties or thirties - have learnt to their cost the legal and financial risks involved in file-sharing copyrighted music in large quantities. Some countries, such as Sweden, have to some extent been perceived as immune from the laws affecting everyone else - today we are making it clear that copyright laws will be enforced against illegal file-sharing in those countries just as elsewhere".
"Today there is simply no excuse to steal music on the internet instead of buying music legally. There are 2 million tracks available on over 300 sites across the world where consumers can download safely and legally and buy, subscribe to or listen to online music at fantastic value. The music industry is making a vast catalogue of music available to consumers online, but at the same time we are determined to protect our music from copyright theft."
The legal actions follow a sustained education campaign by the music sector. Over 52 million instant messages have been sent directly to illegal music file-sharers in 17 countries. A campaign launched by leading charity Childnet International aimed at educating parents about file-sharing and downloading music has been distributed in schools and retailers around the world. A Copyright Security Guide for companies and governments has been mailed to organisations in six countries. Free software, Digital File Check, that helps people enjoy music on their computer safely and legally (go to www.ifpi.org) was launched initially in 6 countries in September.
The deterrence campaign has helped to contain internet piracy in the face of a dramatic expansion of broadband uptake. The number of illegal music files on the internet rose slightly to around 900 million in the first half of 2005, while broadband penetration globally rose 17%.
The actions are helping to encourage the development of the legitimate digital music business. Legal downloads in the first half of 2005 were triple the level of the same period a year earlier, at 186 million tracks. That excludes sales of music on mobile phones and music subscription services, which are expected to see sharp growth over the next year.
FIVE COUNTRIES BEGIN LAWSUITS
The actions in Sweden, Argentina, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Singapore join Austria, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, the UK and the US, bringing the total of countries involved in litigation to 17.
In Argentina, where actions are announced today for the first time, four out of ten people who have access to the internet use unauthorised p2p services. These file-swappers are high-income people, mostly aged between 20 and 30. Seven out of ten people in Argentina are aware that unauthorised file-sharing is illegal.
In Singapore, the recording industry has filed 33 criminal complaints involving users of FastTrack and Gnutella. These follow the industry's "Don't let the music die" education campaign in hundreds of schools, as well as instant messaging. Industry surveys show that eight out of ten people are aware that unauthorised file-sharing is illegal.
In Hong Kong, civil actions are being brought against 22 major uploaders. Industry research indicates that over 40% of internet users are illegal file-sharers although more than 60% of the population is aware that file-sharing on unauthorised p2p networks is illegal. In November, a man who uploaded three films on to the BitTorrent network was sentenced to three months imprisonment..
In Sweden the music industry is announcing 15 criminal complaints against music uploaders with more waves to follow in future. Research shows that more than 1 million people are file-sharing illegally - one in every nine Swedes has been an illegal file-sharer at one time. Three quarters of the population are aware of the illegality of unauthorised file-swapping thanks to several education initiatives including a leaflet to parents called 'Young People, Music and the Internet' distributed by retailers throughout Sweden. In October, an individual who uploaded a Swedish film was convicted of copyright infringement required to pay fines.
The music industry in Switzerland has started gathering evidence against Swiss peer-to-peer uploaders believed to be involved in illegal music file-sharing, and will be filing criminal complaints with the police. These first cases in Switzerland are expected to be brought in the near future.
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.
For further information please contact Adrian Strain or Julie Harari: