Europe has become the file-swapping hub of the world as US users ease off in the face of aggressive litigation by copyright holders – forcing the music industry to begin litigation in Europe next year.

Nielsen/NetRatings reports that 9.35 million Europeans used the Kazaa peer-to-peer file-swapping network in October while 8.24 million Americans did the same.

Between March and October 2003 the number of US Kazaa file sharers halved, once the RIAA began litigation against individuals.

Today's Guardian reports that the chairman of international recording industry group, the IFPI, will warn that similar legal action against consumers in Europe has become "an inevitability". He suggests it may begin next year.

The IFPI's campaign against illegal sharing of copyright material "will only intensify in 2004," the report says.