An Italian judge in Milan has ordered the operators of pirate music Web sites to forfeit more than 2.4 million euros ($3.3 million) following an investigation into copyright infringement.

It follows an investigation and legal proceedings against various Italian Web sites that were used to offer unlicensed music for illegal downloading.

The investigation was launched by the Italian Fiscal Police (GDF) in 2003, with the support of the Federation against Music Piracy (FPM). But while it led to the charging of more than 54 people throughout Italy, the case was dropped as a result of the expiry of the relevant limitation period.

However, the Judge for Preliminary Investigations (GIP) considered it had been proved that the offences had been committed. The judge ordered the seizure and destruction of the computers in question and the forfeiture of money that had been previously frozen by the Office of the Public Prosecutor, which amounted to more than €2.4 million.