Euro consumers recognize illegality of file-sharing.
The wave of online piracy lawsuits recently initiated in Europe by international industry trade body IFPI is yielding initial results.
The London-based organization reports today (June 8) that several "serial" file-sharers whom it had targeted have agreed to pay compensation and settle out of court.
This development comes after IFPI resorted to litigation in Denmark, Germany and Italy in March in its battle against illegal file-sharing via online peer-to-peer networks.
In Denmark, 17 people have paid or agreed to pay penalties of about €3,000 ($3,696) each, according to the IFPI. Another 23 are negotiating payments, while cases are being brought against 24 more today and tomorrow.
In southeast Germany, a 23-year-old is settling with an €8,000 fine ($9,856). He had 6,000 MP3 music files on his PC and 70 CDs containing illegal downloads.
"The message is definitely getting out there; litigation works," says Allen Dixon, IFPI's general counsel and executive director. "Litigation is working in deterring people from engaging in this activity. These penalties are for people who settled because they had done something wrong and agreed to pay."
Dixon says more legal action will be initiated in the coming days. The music industry is launching 100 more copyright-infringement cases in Denmark today, and prosecutors are expected to charge 30 individuals in Italy over the coming weeks. He adds that more civil cases can be expected in other European countries later this year.
Dixon says the fines imposed in Europe are similar to the ones being charged by the RIAA in the United States, where 504 out of nearly 3,000 file-sharing lawsuits have been settled.
He also notes that IFPI's success is encouraging national governments to intensify the provisions of their local copyright-protection laws.
In Canada, where 29 individuals face copyright-infringement lawsuits, the government has pledged to update its copyright law to deal with online piracy.
Last month, the French government announced an action plan to combat the waves of illegal uploading and downloading activities. P2P downloading was declared a crime in Italy.
Additionally, IFPI's educational campaign appears to be paying off. Some 70% of consumers in four surveyed markets -- France, Britain, Denmark and Germany -- say they now accept unauthorized file-sharing is illegal. This compares with 66% before IFPI's first awareness campaign in January.
The anti-piracy crusade has equally led to a decrease in the quantity of illegitimate music files available online. The estimated number worldwide has dropped 27% to 800 million from 1.1 billion a year ago, the IFPI says. The number of illegal files on P2P services fell 30% to 700 million during the same period.