BPI wins landmark file-sharing case

BPI wins landmark file-sharing case

Summary: The British Phonographic Industry has won two landmark cases against unauthorised file-sharers

TOPICS: Government UK

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) has won a landmark legal victor against two British citizens who distributed music over the Internet using peer-to-peer file-sharing programs, it announced on Friday.

This is the first time unauthorised file-sharers have been successfully prosecuted in the UK, according to legal experts.

One of the defendants, a man from King's Lynn, argued that the BPI had no direct evidence of copyright infringement. His defence was rejected by the High Court, and summary judgment was granted to the BPI without the need for a trial.

The defendant was ordered to make an immediate payment of £5,000. Total costs are estimated at £13,500, and damages are expected to take the bill even higher, BPI said in a statement.

The second defendant, a man from Brighton, claimed that he was unaware that what he was doing was illegal and added that he had not sought financial gain.

But Judge Justice Lawrence Collins declared that "ignorance is not a defence." The defendant was ordered to make an immediate payment of £1,500, pending final determination of costs and damages, according to BPI.

"We have been very patient litigators," said BPI general council Roz Groome. "We have given these people every opportunity to settle. Only when they refused to settle did we take them to court, which has now found in our favour. These rulings are a massive step forward in the music industry's bid to fight illegal file-sharing."

It is thought that the BPI looked for the IP addresses of Web users who had uploaded digital music files to the Internet. It then contacted their ISPs and forced them to reveal the identity of the customers involved.

The BPI, if it finds evidence of unauthorised file sharing, can apply for a court order to request that ISPs give details of the suspect IP addresses, explained Struan Robertson, senior associate at legal firm Pinsent Masons.

"This sends a strong message that unauthorised file sharing will be punished. It has been crystal clear for a while that copyright infringement is illegal, but this is a symbolic case," Robertson told ZDNet UK.

The BPI has been criticised in the past for suing unauthorised file sharers, but Robertson believes that it will bring as many cases as it feels it has to. "The BPI didn't want to sue its customers, but it will do to stop them stealing music," said Robertson.

The BPI is currently seeking settlements in a further 51 cases launched last December. Those involved have until 31 January to settle their cases and avoid court action, said the BPI.

Topic: Government UK

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com. He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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  • Well done BPI !!!
    The Fat Cat gets its mouse.
    The UK has hes been over priced for its music since the days of eddison's gramaphone. Now that technology gives the individual equal powers to the people they go to the courts with their fat wallets.

    Before the rest of you cry loss of revenue and copywright infringment. Ask your self if you couldn't download all your music to your Ipod would you actually buy it... Well I for one would not.
    And that is the point!! So how much have they really lost.
    When CDs come closer to a realistic price then they can complain. They cost pennies to produce, hell they even give them away with news papers.
  • Yeah i think a product is too expensive so I steal it,!

    Sometimes i think a good 90% of the people on this board are just criminals
  • Well go ahead that don't change anything. over 100 million people all over the world is using a file sharing software. Why not try to put 100 million ppl in jail. Don't think so.

    100 million ppl is a too big mass. And those ppl will not stop doing this. They will only find more secure way to do it. And makes there voice heard over and over again. So the biggest losers thats the music and movie industry that don't understand common market economy and innovation. You burrie your self deeper and deeper each time. Myself don't know anyone who wants to shop a CD in a legal way after all this circus....

    So dowload a safer client and put the last nail in the coffin.
  • Nah just give a 5 year ban to work in the computer industry any involved in computer crime (ie music/software piracy) from working in the computer industry, that should pretty much destroy the linux 'movement'
  • Yes true stealing is illegal
    but what these people seem to forget is that if it the MP3 underground copying people had been stopped completely in the early days, things like MP3 players, and Ipods and the like wouldnt even exist today

    They ought to be saying thankyou for allowing them to become fatter cats by our invention.

    MP3 was generally first used so people could copy and transfer multiple albums, burnt back onto cd to play them

    So MP3 and its hardware is -O-N-L-Y- as popular as it is thanks to those original pirates around 10 years ago

    Think about it fat cats

    No MP3's an entire market sector dies with it
  • I wonder just how many of the mega rich rock stars that this action protects actually pay their taxes? Over to you, Sir Mick, Sir Elton...
  • i wouldnt mind purchasing music files off of the nte if it was easy, as in go to a site, find the track, pay via paypal and download it - done! you have to register, read the newsletter, check for updates, browse the site, locate the artist, select the track, try to find the login details they just gave you, type them in, enter more details, then you may be able to get your track at last!
  • er..what?

    What does Linux have to do with this?