File-Sharing Crackdown Rages Worldwide

By ERIC J. SINROD

Thursday, Nov. 24, 2005

Lest there be any doubt – the recording industry is quite serious about cracking down on what it perceives to be illegal file-sharing on the Internet not only in the United States, but in other countries as well.  Indeed, to prove the point, the recording industry has just initiated more than 2,100 new legal cases against individuals in Europe, Asia and South America.

According to the International Federation for the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), file-sharers in Sweden, Switzerland, Argentina, Hong Kong and Singapore now are at risk of criminal penalties and payment of damages in an international campaign that has already seen thousands of people pay at least $3,000 for uploading copyrighted music on peer-to-peer networks (P2P).

The IFPI maintains that these latest cases brings the total number of such legal actions to over 3,800 in 16 countries outside the United States.  The IFPI states that this is the fourth wave of cases since this international campaign began in March, 2004.  The campaign is targeting users of all the major unauthorized P2P networks, including FastTrack (Kazaa), Gnutella (BearShare), eDonkey, DirectConnect, BitTorrent, WinMX, and SoulSeek.

IFPI Chairman and CEO John Kennedy has proclaimed at a press conference announcing the latest wave of legal actions:  "Today there is simply no excuse to steal music on the Internet instead of buying music legally. There are 2 million tracks available on over 300 sites across the world where consumers can download safely and legally and buy, subscribe to or listen to online music at fantastic value. The music industry is making a vast catalogue of music available to consumers online, but at the same time we are determined to protect our music from copyright theft."

The recent actions in Sweden, Switzerland, Argentina, Hong Kong and Singapore are set against the backdrop of prior lawsuits filed in Austria, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, the UK and the United States, bringing the total of countries involved in litigation to 17, according to the IFPI.

The take-away point here very well might be “you can run, but you cannot hide.”  That is to say, the recording industry likely will go to all ends of the earth to seek to stamp out what it believes to be illegal file-sharing.  While the recording industry likely will not be able to go after every single infringer, if it makes enough waves in many countries, its legal actions could have a serious deterrent effect.


Eric Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris (www.duanemorris.com), where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. His Web site is www.sinrodlaw.com, and he can be reached at [email protected] To receive a weekly e-mail link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please send an e-mail with the word Subscribe in the Subject line to [email protected] This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

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