LONDON — The international recorded music industry is raising the stakes in its battle against online music file sharing. In its latest round of civil suits, the IFPI’s national trade group members have launched 2,100 new cases against individual peer-to-peer file-sharers in what the trade body described as its biggest-yet raft of lawsuits.
At a media gathering Nov. 15 in Stockholm, the IFPI confirmed it would extend its campaign for the first time to individuals in Sweden, Switzerland, Argentina, Hong Kong and Singapore.
As of Nov. 15, the number of legal actions brought by the industry is roughly 3,800 across 16 countries outside the United States. Including the United States, the number of cases worldwide now stands at about 19,000.
IFPI chairman/CEO John Kennedy says that the latest actions herald a “significant escalation” in its enforcement measures. This is the fourth such wave since the IFPI launched its P2P initiative in March 2004.
And with an estimated two million titles licensed to the 300-plus legitimate services in operation globally, illegal downloading would no longer be tolerated, Kennedy affirmed.
“The message today is that, from Sweden to Hong Kong and from Singapore to Argentina, there are no havens for the theft of music on the Internet,” comments IFPI chairman/CEO John Kennedy. “Today there is simply no excuse to steal music on the Internet instead of buying music legally.”
The IFPI’s move comes on the heels of the landmark settlement between motion picture studios and the music industry with P2P service Grokster. After a four-year legal battle during which the U.S. Supreme Court held that copyright law prohibits companies from inducing infringement, Grokster agreed to shutter its service and pay $50 million in damages rather than risk a higher ultimate judgment.
Against a backdrop of growth in broadband usage, the IFPI suggests its campaign is beginning to show results. The number of illegal music files on the Internet rose slightly to around 900 million in the first half of 2005, while broadband penetration globally rose 13%, the IFPI says.
In its latest wave of lawsuits, the trade body said it had targeted users of all the leading unauthorized p2p networks, including FastTrack, Gnutella, eDonkey, DirectConnect, BitTorrent, WinMX, and SoulSeek.
Individual offenders, who are described typically as men between 20-30, will be sought to pay sums of $3,000 or more for uploading copyrighted music on peer-to-peer networks.
As part of the music industry’s multi-prong campaign on P2P, more than 52 million instant messages have been sent to-date to illegal music file-sharers in 17 countries.