Reports that the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) intends chasing individual file downloaders may not be wholly correct.

Speaking to Macworld, BPI director general Andrew Yeates said: "The reports on this first carried on the BBC included quotes taken out of context – I was speaking to ISPs, not consumers."

The BBC report quoted Yeates saying: "We want to increase awareness of the legal implications of file-sharing. If these are not working, there has to be a degree of enforcement," he said.

Yeates spoke at the Royal Society-hosted Music and Technology conference last week. Speaking to Macworld, he described the new breed of digital music consumer as a "constituency to be wooed to legal music services.

"The last thing the industry wants to do is litigate against illegal file sharers, but we do need to support the new services as they are introduced this year," he said.

Music industry sources gathered at last week's event expect iTunes to launch in Europe in Q2.

Balance needed

His speech focused on the need for realistic enforcement and protection of copyright, but stressed the need to balance such measures with others to stimulate "innovation, investment and imagination".

Yeates said: "There is evidence that copyright can be made ineffective unless owners can take strong enforcement action, but this is expensive and time-consuming. Copyright protection is vital to ensuring the existence artists and businesses that trade in their work, he said.

"Enforcement is not the real incentive for record companies to invest in new music – the incentive is to enable access to music. A positive approach to business underpins the excitement almost everyone I have met within the music business feels about the world in which they work."

Enforcement action may prove ineffective in the long-term. Analysts the NPD Group report that US peer-to-peer music sharing use climbed in the October-November period 2003 – even while legitimate online sales climbed. This suggests that positive support for legal services matters more than litigation against individual music grabbers.