UK gets tough on music swappers

The UK music industry has compared the fight against illegal online file sharing with curbing drink driving

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) is likely to bring further legal action against UK citizens accused of sharing copyright-protected files over the Internet.

Late last week the BPI won a court ruling that will force six UK ISPs to name 31 subscribers suspected of illegally sharing music.

Speaking on Monday, a BPI spokesman suggested that last Friday's legal success — which followed a similar court action in October 2004 — will prove to be just one part of a long-term process of changing people's behaviour online through legal action.

"In terms of behavioural change, the UK government has broadcast the dangers of drink-driving, but people still drink drive," said the BPI spokesman.

The ISPs involved in the case now have 14 days to provide the names sought by the BPI. The individuals named will then be invited to settle the charges, probably by paying a fine of around £2,000.

The BPI hopes that the amount of publicity generated by last week's court success will deter Internet users from uploading copyright material to file-swapping networks.

But despite the group's tough stance, the spokesman recognised that the BPI is still facing an uphill struggle to convince file-swappers that they are in the wrong.

"We're reluctant to say 'OK, the job's done, let's spend money on making records'," said the BPI spokesman. "I suspect that the problem won't go away just because we've launched two rounds of litigation".