January 27, 2006

UK music filesharers ordered to pay fines

By Tim Castle

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's record industry said on Friday
it had won a landmark court case against two people caught
illegally swapping music on the Internet, forcing them to pay
thousands of pounds in bills.

In the first case of its kind in Britain, London's High
Court ruled in separate judgements that the two men were liable
for illegal internet distribution of music, the British
Phonographic Institute (BPI) said.

"It's the first time our assertion that file sharing is
illegal has been tested in court," a BPI spokesman told

"These individuals felt they had a case to defend, and the
courts ruled that they emphatically don't."

The BPI said it had decided not to name the two men, a
postman from Brighton in southern England and a man from King's
Lynn in eastern England, who it had taken to court for breaking
the Copyright and Patents Act.

The judgments were made earlier this month and in November.

The man from King's Lynn was ordered to make an immediate
payment of 5,000 pounds ($8,860), and faces legal costs of
13,500 pounds and as well as an undecided sum for damages.

The postman, a father of two, was told to pay 1,500 pounds
pending a final decision on damages and costs.

Until now the BPI has reached out-of-court settlements with
individuals it has traced uploading large amounts of music over
so-called peer-to-peer networks, which distribute data between
users instead of relying on a central server.

The BPI has launched around 140 legal cases since October
2004 against individuals as it cracks down on illegal

In the United States the Recording Industry Association of
America has sued thousands of individuals for unauthorized
downloading of music.

The music industry estimates there are 900 million
unauthorized music files are on the Internet.

But the BPI said the growth of illegal file sharing has
slowed following the emergence of legitimate music download
services such as Apple's iTunes and a greater awareness of the
possibility of legal sanctions.