Free software to block illegal file-sharing.

International music industry trade body the IFPI has joined forces with the movie industry to distribute a free anti-piracy software designed to block illegal file-swapping on computers.

Called Digital File Check (DFC) and developed with the Motion Picture Association (MPA), the new software tool aims to offer a simple solution for consumers who want to listen to digital music responsibly.

The required software can be downloaded online over the next few months via IFPI and its affiliates' Web sites, or from a physical CD ordered from the participating organizations.

The scheme kicks off in the European markets of Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Other countries are scheduled to follow shortly after.

"We've not collaborated with the MPA on a such a project before and this is the biggest education program we've done," IFPI's chairman/CEO John Kennedy tells "And we hope to be working as much as possible in the future. The DFC represents progress in our education, awareness and deterrence [anti-piracy] campaign; we don't want our foot to come off the accelerator. It is an education aid for helping the public move forward."

The initiative follows the IFPI and MPA's use of education and litigation to inform consumers about the hurt caused to copyright owners by illegal digital distribution.

In addition to the existing 350 legal music sites from which they can buy legitimate digital tracks and videos, music buyers can use DFC to delete unwanted peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing programs such as KaZaA, eDonkey and Grokster.

Additionally, they can remove copyrighted content from the original computer illegally swapping the songs or movie files.

"This is a timely initiative," says Kennedy. "It comes after months of warning and information campaigns making it clear that file-swapping copyrighted music is illegal and could involve fines and prosecutions."

The initiative is supported by another project targeted at employers responsible for company and organization computer networks that might be used for illegal downloads.

In a document called "Copyright and Security Guide for Companies and Government," the IFPI, MPA and the Brussels-based International Video Federation outline and explain why all employers are duty-bound to prevent copyright violation via their computer systems.

Distribution of the guide begins in the next few weeks in Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Czech Republic, Sweden and Thailand. Other countries will follow soon after.