The London-based International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has announced that it is spearheading a new co-ordinated campaign against global Internet music piracy.

The campaign will incorporate and expand actions already underway or planned by national groups belonging to the IFPI. IFPI affiliate groups are currently campaigning against hundreds of sites in more than 20 countries worldwide that are infringing copyright laws. The IFPI intends not only to rid the Internet of pirated content, but also to find the best way for artists and companies to deliver music legally over the 'Net, according to a statement.

Only 10 countries have ratified the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Treaties of 1996. Twenty more ratifications are required before the international copyright legislation framework can come into force, according to IFPI.

The group is fighting two enemies: the people uploading the illegally copied music files and the ISPs (Internet service providers) that are hosting the download sites. There are around 1 million illegal music files available on the Internet at any one time, according to IFPI estimates.

The new campaign will consist of legal initiatives, warning letters, and "cease and desist" letters expanding on the actions of its member groups, IFPI said.

In Asia, for example, IFPI Korea has sent 80 letters to operators of pirate sites since June 1998, resulting in 65 per cent of those sites being closed down, while in Europe IFPI Italy has closed down 535 illegal sites so far this year, according to the statement.

The UK's national IFPI member, the British Phonographic Industry last week also launched an investigation into illegal music, specifically targeting sites where users are promised illegal music files after looking at a so-called sponsor's Web site, which often consists of pornographic material.