Sound of the underground

7 Oct 2004

The Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) is understood to be considering a plan to sue music pirates following a decision by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) to sue some 459 UK and French downloaders.

The IFPI warned that the rolling campaign will be further stepped up and extended into new countries in the coming months. It called on music fans to buy their music online legitimately, rather than risk the legal consequences of illegal file-sharing. There are now more than 100 legal online music sites in Europe offering a total of over one million music tracks.

Yesterday’s action is the largest single wave of lawsuits to be announced outside the US since the industry in Europe started bringing litigation against illegal file-sharing in March 2004. It brings the total number of cases so far launched in Europe to more than 650 in six countries.

The cases, a combination of criminal and civil suits, are aimed at uploaders – people charged with putting hundreds of copyrighted songs on to internet file-sharing networks and offering them to thousands or millions of people worldwide without permission from the copyright owners. The defendants are likely to face compensation payments averaging several thousand euros.

In countries where cases have already been settled, identified uploaders are already paying compensation. As a result of actions brought in March, so far more than 80 people in Germany and Denmark have handed over individual payments of up to €13,000.

The IRMA is currently involved in a media campaign warning potential file sharers and downloaders of the consequences of breaking copyright laws. The organisation is expected to start taking lawsuits from next spring. The organisation is also planning to start an online advertising campaign targeting up to 10,000 firms and third-level colleges that will warn potential illegal downloaders. The campaign will take the form of online pop-up ads.

By John Kennedy