Fresh crackdown on illegal music filesharers

Around 50 individuals and companies who illegally uploaded music tracks from the web will be hit with legal action, the Irish Recorded Music Association said today.

Around 50 individuals and companies who illegally uploaded music tracks from the web will be hit with legal action, the Irish Recorded Music Association said today.

The group confirmed the second stage of its crackdown against serial filesharers who illegally make copyrighted music available on the internet was underway.

Willie Kavanagh, chairman of IRMA, said it was regrettable that legal action had to continue against serial file sharers.

But he confirmed IRMA was seeking damages and injunctions against a further 50 individuals or companies who illegally uploaded hundreds or thousands of music tracks onto peer-to-peer filesharing networks.

“Despite a fall off of up to 50% in illegal activity in April-June following our initial campaign, the numbers have substantially increased in the July-September period,” Mr Kavanagh said.

“The scale of the challenge and the damage is apparent when we consider that any one of these individuals engaged in illegal filesharing could be connected to some two-three million others at any one time on the internet.”

From its first phase of legal action against 17 illegal filesharers last April, IRMA settled with 12 at an average of €2,500 per case.

The organisation is suing a further three and is considering its legal options in the two remaining cases.

IRMA, which is the trade organisation representing 50 members including major and independent record companies, has asked internet service providers to release the names of the individuals they had found to be abusing copyright on the internet.

The major filesharers subject to legal action include users of the filesharing network FastTrack, on which KaZaA runs, and the Gnutella network.

The organisation said it had spent 15-months alerting people to the cultural and economic damage caused by file-sharing before it resorted to legal action.

The computers of illegal filesharers worldwide were bombarded with 52 million instant messages warning them of the consequences if they continued breaking the law.

Dick Doyle, director general of IRMA, said: “Despite our original legal actions and the press coverage involved with same, it is clear to us that some people are still prepared to act illegally and in a persistent manner.

“IRMA must protect its members’ interests by taking on file sharers who refuse to get the message.”

IRMA said the new wave of legal actions was aimed at deterring the people using the internet illegally and granting legal music downloading businesses room to grow.

Some of the six major legitimate services in Ireland include iTunes, Eircom Music Club, mycoke.com, vitaminic.com music club, wippit.co.uk and Sony Connect.

The Recorded Artists and Performers (RAAP) group said it endorsed the actions taken by the Irish association in their legal campaign.

Eanna Casey, chief executive of RAAP, said: “Online music piracy is selfish, illegal and damaging, having a direct negative impact on the economic welfare of recording artists and performers. No industry can be expected to allow illegal activities to continue unchallenged.

“The unauthorised uploading of copyrighted music is being confronted vigorously by IRMA, and RAAP is fully committed to protecting its members’ moral and economic rights through these actions.”

IRMA warned the legal action was part of a crackdown from the international recording industry which is stepping up litigation worldwide.

An organisation representing the recording industry worldwide, IFPI, today announced 2,000 new actions launched in 16 countries in Europe and Asia.

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