EasyInternetCafe seeks global deal in music burning row

The Internet café chain is still refusing to pay £100,000 to the British music industry, instead pushing for a lower worldwide settlement

EasyInternetCafe has offered the recording industry £50,000 in compensation for allowing customers to illegally burn music onto CDs in its stores.

The offer was made to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) last week, and comes after the Internet café chain refused to pay a £100,000 fine to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

As ZDNet UK reported earlier this month, EasyInternetCafe had been set a deadline of 14 August to pay £100,000 to the BPI or risk being taken to court. This deadline has now passed without settlement.

An EasyInternetCafe spokesman told ZDNet UK that the company was still hoping to reach a worldwide agreement with the IFPI.

"We have stores in Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain, the US and Italy, as well as the UK. We've already settled this case in Germany and we've now offered £50,000 for a global settlement," the EasyInternetCafe spokesman said.

The case arose when the BPI complained to EasyInternetCafe that its customers were downloading copyright songs from the Internet -- using peer-to-peer services such as Napster -- and storing them on CDs.

EasyInternetCafe says it responded by removing CD-burning equipment from all its stores and gave the BPI access to its servers so it could assess how much copyright infringement had taken place.

The Internet café group was unimpressed, though, when the BPI initially demanded a payment of £1m and after a certain amount of haggling the two sides remain deadlocked. Before offering £50,000 for a global settlement, EasyInternetCafe had previously only offered the BPI £26,000.

According to the IFPI, the creation and distribution of pirated CDs accounts for nearly half of the European Union's estimated 2bn euro pirate and counterfeiting business and is linked to serious international organised crime.

It is very unlikely that a major counterfeiting operation would have been conducted from an EasyInternetcafe store. Much of the burning of copyright material is likely to have involved individuals who downloaded songs from the Internet and then saved them to CD so they could take them home.

The IFPI declined to comment.

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