Stepping up its battle against online music piracy, the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) has announced thousands of new lawsuits against those it suspects of illegal filesharing.
The recording industry group has filed 8,000 new lawsuits in 17 countries, bringing the total number of suits it has filed outside the US to 13,000. That's on top of about 18,000 lawsuits already filed in US, said Alex Jacob, an IFPI spokesman in London.
The most recent lawsuits are against those suspected of uploading large numbers of music files to P2P (peer-to-peer) networks such as BitTorrent, eDonkey and Limewire. Pursuing such "mass uploaders" can be more effective than suing people who download a few individual tracks, Jacob said.
Many of the people sued were the parents of children suspected of illegal filesharing. Parents can be held liable in some countries for activity that takes place over the household internet connection. The group also sued some cybercafes that it said facilitated music piracy.
The suits, which are a mixture of civil and criminal actions, include the first cases brought by the IFPI in Brazil, Mexico and Poland. In Brazil, more than a billion songs were illegally downloaded last year. The IFPI cites this as the reason record company revenues in that country have halved over the past five years.
"Since the music sales have gone down at the same time that filesharing has exploded, it seems logical that at least some of those sales were lost to illegal downloads," Jacob said.
Of the cases outside the US, about 2,300 people have chosen to settle with the IFPI, with the average settlement €2,420 (about £1,622), the IFPI said.
The music and film industries are pursuing a dual strategy to fight piracy, using both education and the threat of lawsuits to dissuade people from illegal downloads. Visitors to the web address formerly owned by Grokster, which shut down last year after losing a case in the US Supreme Court, now see a warning that their IP address has been logged. "Don't think you can't get caught. You are not anonymous," the website says.
That sentiment was echoed in the IFPI's statement today. "People should understand that they can be caught whatever network they are using," IFPI chairman John Kennedy said. "The next time a series of lawsuits are announced, you could be on the receiving end if you are an illegal filesharer.”
The 8,000 new lawsuits were filed in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Singapore.