Music Industry Warns That It May Sue UK File-Sharers

The BPI has warned that it may be forced into suing UK file-sharers, despite the recent passing of the Digital Economy Act. In an interview yesterday, Chief Executive Geoff Taylor said although the industry would prefer for file-sharing to be dealt with via 'technical measures', they might still have to sue some people.

Following the passing of the UK’s Digital Economy Act in early April, BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor has been speaking with Billboard about how he sees the next steps for tacking file-sharing in the UK.

Although so-called “educational letters” will be sent out to those suspected of illicit file-sharing towards the end of this year and “technical measures” (throttling/account suspension) imposed if illicit sharing isn’t reduced by around 70% in the next 18 to 24 months, Taylor says that the music industry will probably have to start suing people again in the meantime.

Due to the fact that ISPs will have to keep lists of those subscribers who have received the greatest number of educational letters, ultimately the music industry will be able to identify, they say, those who are being most stubborn to change.

Armed with this information they will be able to proceed to court to obtain their real-life names and addresses. Taylor says that there is a possibility that even at the early stages of the letter sending campaign, the music industry will use this information to start suing the “most egregious infringers”.

Taylor insists that the BPI will take this action reluctantly, and would have preferred that the problem be solved through the early introduction of technical measures, but that wasn’t to be.

“Government disagreed with us, regrettably, and decided not to bring the technical measures into effect immediately and has said to us that it expects us to bring legal cases and that it will take that into account when it looks at whether or not to introduce technical measures,” he explained.

To this end, Taylor said that the BPI may well have to sue people “at some level”, a course of action that he claims the Government expects of them in advance of its decision to implement technical measures.

Of course, suing file-sharers is something that the BPI did before back in 2004. Taylor admitted that they were unable to carry out that campaign on a level which would become a deterrent to the masses but said at least this time round they will be able to target those who have offended the most and failed to change their ways.

This approach raises another interesting situation. Rather than just about anyone being a target for litigation – potentially for downloading a single album for example – the BPI is now saying that only the worst offenders will be targeted for action. Since their legal resources are limited, this could only conceivable aimed at the top 1 or 2% of aggressive file-sharers.

So, since many file-sharers download a hell of a lot more music than they’d ever really need, it could be argued that by only downloading the stuff that they really want, their chances of ending up at the top of the heap are very slim indeed.

This would of course result in a sizable reduction in file-sharing transfers, but would it drive people into music stores? It seems unlikely.

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