Music Industry News Network [03-30-2004]

Statement By Jay Berman, Chairman And CEO Of IFPI, On The Launch Of International Legal Action Against Illegal File-Sharing


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Today we are announcing a wave of legal actions against illegal file-sharing in several countries. We are targeting individuals whom we believe are illegally making available hundreds or thousands of song files containing our members' copyrighted music.

This is the start of an international campaign against online copyright theft, and it is the logical next step in the fight against piracy, coming after our extensive education and warning campaigns of the last few months.

Our message today is that illegal file-sharing is jeopardising the livelihoods of all those who work in the music industry, that education alone has proved insufficient in stopping it and that illegal file-sharers are now no longer going to be able to continue their activities with impunity from the law.

We are also making it clear that illegal file-sharing is not, as some might mistakenly think, an anonymous activity - if you log on to a file-sharing network and start uploading copyright music you can easily be identified. What you are doing is a totally illegal activity and you may have to face the legal consequences.

Our litigation activities are only one part of a larger strategy.- a strategy which combines developing new online services, education and public awareness and, where it is essential, enforcing the law.

Legal action is not a move we take lightly, but we are absolutely determined to see it through. Illegal file-sharing is robbing thousands of people of their jobs and livelihoods, from the musician to the sound engineer, from the record company talent scout to the record shop assistant. It has contributed to the loss of almost five billion euros of annual record sales over the last five years - those are revenues on which the whole economy of the music industry, and the people working in it, depends.

Everyone will agree that it would be far better if we were able to stop this problem by persuasion and education, rather than by having to resort to litigation. And we have spared no effort in the last year to persuade and educate. We have been extremely active internationally and locally, highlighting the huge damage being done by illegal file-sharing, explaining the laws and promoting all the sites where large catalogues of copyrighted music are available for consumers to access legitimately.

For those who still doubt it, virtually every major independent survey and research project shows that file-sharing directly impacts on sales of legitimate music.

We have made it clear that file-sharing without the permission of the copyright holder is illegal, that it amounts to "file-stealing", and that it affect jobs and livelihoods across the whole industry. The message has been getting through - our surveys show that two thirds of people in Europe know that file-sharing copyrighted music is illegal.

Ultimately, though, we have learned that education alone is not sufficient, and that some people persist because, like shop-lifters, they think they can 'get away with it'. So we have decided that only the prospect of legal action is going to make those people rethink what they are doing.

Today we are making it clear that we are totally prepared to enforce the law, and we will start actions against those people who are breaking it by uploading hundreds of music files on to the internet. We will not stand by while thousands of people involved in the creation of music see their careers and livelihoods destroyed. The message is that people are at a real risk of being sued or prosecuted if they continue to rip off those who make music.


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