The music business is preparing to extend litigation against file-sharers across Europe, claiming its hard-nosed approach to the problem is working.

Music business body the IFPI released figures yesterday that claimed file sharing is down more than 25 per cent in comparison to June 2003. The report indicates that seven out of ten people now know "file-sharing is illegal" and that file sharers prosecuted by the music industry are beginning to shell out "thousands of Euros" in fines.

The IFPI intends to sue another 24 individuals in Denmark for copyright infringement with further actions planned in France, Sweden and the UK. The organization sued 200 swappers in March.

IFPI Chairman and CEO Jay Berman said: "Today's results show that litigation, combined with the rollout of new legal online music services, is having a real impact on people's attitudes to illegal file-sharing, and this in turn is affecting levels of file-sharing activity. We are not claiming victory yet, but we are encouraged by the way the market is developing, and by the shift we see in public opinion."

Berman appealed for government help: "They have an important role to play in the fight against illegal file-sharing, which affects not only the music sector but increasingly the film and other creative industries – a sector worth more than 1,000 billion euros in world trade. We welcome the support of governments in helping both fight online piracy and facilitate new online legitimate services. Initiatives such as the French government's recently-announced Action Plan against internet piracy are particularly welcome"

The report adds that the music industry has sent approximately 23 million instant-message warnings in nine countries to people offering copyrighted music on file-sharing systems. These countries include Austria, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Japan, Sweden, the UK and the US.

The number of infringing music files available online has also shrunk, claimed IFPI, down 27 per cent form a peak of 1.1 billion files in June 2003 to 800 million as of June 2004.

Traffic on legitimate online music sites has also increased dramatically over the last year. OD2 reports average monthly music downloads at over 500,000 in first quarter of 2004 rising by 27 per cent in May 2004.