International Recording Industry Hits File Sharers

Illegal peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharers are facing more than 8,000 copyright infringement lawsuits in 17 countries, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

The campaign involves illegal file-sharers in Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Singapore and Switzerland.

The lawsuits, launched Monday, are part of an international campaign against illegal downloading of music. The legal action brings the total number of lawsuits outside the United States to more than 13,000.

The IFPI said lawsuits, both criminal and civil, were filed for the first time in Brazil, Mexico and Poland.

According to the IFPI, more than a million songs were illegally downloaded in Brazil last year and record company revenues have been cut in half.

“In each of the 17 countries involved in today’s actions there are legal music services available to consumers. There is no excuse,” John Kennedy, chairman and CEO of the IFPI, said in a statement.

In addition to individual file sharers, the lawsuits also target those who are uploading copyrighted music to Internet file-sharing networks.

The recording industry is targeting uploaders using all the major P2P services, including BitTorrent, eDonkey, DirectConnect, Gnutella, Limewire, SoulSeek and WinMX.

“Consumers today can get music legally in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago with over three million tracks available on nearly 400 sites worldwide as well as an array of mobile platforms,” Kennedy said.

“Yet some people continue to consume their music illegally, refusing to respect the creative work of artists, songwriters and record producers.”

The lawsuits come after a series of legal setbacks for P2P networks. Courts around the world have ruled against the P2P networks for facilitating copyright infringement.

In June of 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court decreed Grokster was legally responsible for the illegal acts of their users.

The decision prompted a series of settlements between the recording industry and P2P networks.

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