As record labels reveal that legitimate digital music services are booming, now accounting for around 5 per cent of revenue, they have launched new lawsuits against file-sharers.
Label trade body the IFPI today announced the biggest single action against illegal file-sharing internationally in Germany, with 3,500 illegal music file-sharers facing 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", the IFPI explained.
These individuals are facing both criminal prosecution and civil claims for compensation. 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 today 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.
The IFPI claims that 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."
John Kennedy, IFPI chairman and CEO said: "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."