Germany Launches Biggest Legal Action Against Illegal File-Sharing
The biggest single action against illegal file-sharing internationally took place in Germany as 3,500 illegal music file-sharers faced criminal prosecution for uploading large amounts of copyrighted material on peer-to-peer networks.
Investigators identified individual illegal music file-sharers who were using the eDonkey network to offer up to 8,000 copyright infringing music files on the internet.
Each of the individuals faces both criminal prosecution and claims for compensation for their actions under civil law. They are likely to face damage claims of up to several thousand euros for distributing music on file-sharing networks, without permission, for millions of other to download.
Police searched 130 premises to gather evidence in the investigations, which have been running for several months. The actions are coordinated by the Public Prosecution Service of Cologne and the Police Authority of Bergheim.
File-sharing networks, such as eDonkey, cause huge damage to investment in music and cost the international recording industry billions of dollars in lost sales every year. In Germany, legal physical sales of music have fallen by a third in five years, while more than 400 million music files were downloaded illegally in 2005 alone.
The German recording industry has taken high-profile actions against file-sharers since early 2004. They are part of an international campaign that has seen more than 7,000 legal proceedings brought against uploaders in the last three years. Hundreds of settlements have resulted in file-sharers paying an average of 2,500 euros in damages.
Michael Haentjes, Chairman of IFPI Germany and Chairman and CEO of Edel Music, said: "The important message to all internet users is that you cannot rely on being undiscovered when committing crime online.
"On behalf of the recording industry, IFPI thanks the police for a great piece of teamwork and a superb investigation success."
John Kennedy, chairman and chief executive of IFPI said: "I am pleased that the German authorities recognise the serious impact of copyright crime and are taking action against it. Internet piracy has hurt the whole music community in Germany, with legitimate sales falling by a third in just five years. The victims are investment in music and everyone who makes a livelihood out of the music industry.
"No one should be surprised that we are stepping up our campaign in this way. The music industry has run numerous education campaigns aimed at audiences from parents to schools and internet users. Most people clearly know that file-sharing without permission is illegal - unfortunately it takes legal actions such as this make a real impact on behaviour. Today, there is every reason for music lovers to download legitimately. There is a huge choice of legal services available to consumers. There is really no excuse for stealing music online."
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