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Gonna get phonographic on your filesharing a**

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The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) went on the offensive today by telling UK filesharers stop sharing music - or end up in court.

This latest attack on fast and loose MP3 action comes as the trade body releases new figures on the size of the filesharing phenomenon, which it says are a stark indication of how filesharing is affecting record sales.

The BPI found that although Brits buy more music than any other country (IFPI Recording Industry in Numbers 2002) nearly 18 per cent, or 8m of us, say we have downloaded music. Of this group, only eight per cent claim to be using legitimate services, with the remaining 92 per cent downloading illegally.

The organisation points to filesharing as the cause of falling record sales. It says spending both on albums and on singles have fallen in the last 12 months, by 32 per cent and 59 per cent respectively.

It is hard to imagine that filesharing has had no effect on sales of music, but it is also a bit much to expect us to believe it is the sole cause of this decline. The vast majority of downloading is track-led, and few people download whole albums.

Also it is worth noting that it quotes spending as falling, not units sold. In fact, singles sales have been taking a hammering for sometime, and the BPI itself points out that the price of albums has fallen noticeably recently, with half of all CDs sold costing less than £10.

Nonetheless: filesharing is illegal, says the BPI, and we should stop doing it. The BPI believes that most content is uploaded by a relatively small, hardcore group. These so-called "Serial uploaders" are its first priority. Users of services like Kazza will see instant messages pop up on their screens warning uploaders that they face court action if they don't disable file-sharing software on their computers.

Lavinia Carey, director general of The British Video Association, said tthe video industry is learning from the experience of the music industry, and called illegal downloading a kind of "global shoplifting" which no industry could sustain. ®

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