Brit file-sharers found liable, fined.

The British Phonographic Industry is claiming a pair of landmark legal victories after two U.K. men were found liable for illegally distributing digital music. The cases, revealed today (Jan. 27) by the labels body, are the first of their kind to be heard in the British courts.

BPI general counsel Roz Groome declares the decisions a "massive step forward in the music industry's bid to fight illegal filesharing."

The London-based trade body says it has launched 139 litigation cases against individual file-sharers since October 2004.

The majority of those cases have been settled, says the BPI, with some paying up to £6,500 ($11,500) to avoid court.

In one case of the landmark cases, a man from King's Lynn, in Norfolk, east England, has been ordered to pay £5,000 ($8,900). The High Court two weeks ago rejected his defence that the BPI had no direct evidence of infringement. Total costs are estimated at £13,500 ($24,000) and damages are expected to raise the bill.

Separately, a man from Brighton, in south east England, was ordered in November to make a payment of £1,500 ($2,600), pending final determination of costs and damages.

Neither man's name has been published by the BPI.

The BPI has imposed a Jan. 31 deadline to settle out of court a further 51 legal cases launched last December.

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