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Belgian fuzz raid music downloaders

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If you think you're safe because no one else knows about your collection of downloaded MP3s, think again - especially if you live in Belgium. Belgian police have been raiding computer users' homes searching for copyright infringing music files downloaded from the Net.

The raids - one in December, followed by two more last month - were part of an investigation into MP3Blast.com begun at the behest of the Belgian wing of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, according to an Associated Press report.

Further police action is anticipated. Olivier Bogaert, a spokesman for the Belgian public prosecution service, said four more cases, this time of Napster users, were under review.

A spokesman for the IFPI said that the body was only pursuing alleged copyright infringers "who had been clearly warned yet persevered with the practice."

The IFPI likes to rattle its sabre every so often, and has used the law to tackle alleged online music piracy for some time. Usually it strikes against large-scale piracy operations, such as illegal CD duplication facilities, but every so often targets users.

Back in 1999, for instance, the body's Swedish operation sued a 17-year-old student for daring to link to an MP3 archive on his Web site. That case was thrown out by the Swedish court only days after the IFPI began the action. ®

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