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Student sued for site's links to MP3 files

Linking to dodgy MP3 files is as bad as making them in the first place, claims IFPI

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A 17-year-old Swedish student has been hit with a lawsuit by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) for promoting piracy by linking his Web site to an archive of allegedly illegal MP3 digital music files. According to German newspaper Der Spiegel, student Tommy Olsson's site is the first Web site owner whose pages contain only links to music files to be targeted by the IFPI. Olsson's lawyer said the case against his client had no merit since Olsson was simply disseminating information -- the location of the files -- not the files themselves. However, the IFPI (or, rather, its Swedish wing) claims that Olsson's site does indirectly infringe the copyright held by the owners of the original music tracks. The case to some extent follows precedents set in the UK and New Zealand in 1997 when Web site operators were successfully sued for linking to copyright material. In those cases, however, the copyright material was pages of text from newspapers' Web sites which the defendants had displayed within frames on their own sites. Even though the text had not been copied onto the defendants' sites, it was still ruled that by displaying the text, they had violated the original sources' copyright. If the case goes against Olsson, he could face only a token fine of $150-200. However, said the IPFI's lawyer, it would set a precedent allowing the prosecution of other Web site owners for greater damages. A judgement on the case is due to be issued on Wednesday. ®

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