An Australian court has handed down a large fine to an Internet café which charged customers an hourly rate to download illegal music and movie files.

The Interville Technology café on central Sydney's Pitt Street was fined $82,000 Australian ($53,000) and court costs, and forced to relinquish its servers and computers following the Nov. 25 ruling at Downing Centre Local Court.

The case arose after an Australian Federal Police raid on the premises last December, following an investigation into the business by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) and Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI).

Subsequent probes found that hundreds of thousands of copyright-infringing music tracks, and film and TV titles, were stored on the company's three servers. Staff had actively sourced the illegal content, which included titles from Justin Timberlake, 50 Cent, and Alicia Keys. Owners of the venue pleaded guilty to 40 charges of copyright infringement.

"This is a fantastic result for a significant case in the fight against music piracy," comments Sabiene Heindl, GM of MIPI. "For the first time, an Internet café has been targeted and justly reprimanded for its blatant facilitation of widespread copyright infringement for commercial gain."

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