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Identify file-sharers, judge tells UK ISPs

Given 14 days to comply ... or appeal

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The English High Court today gave UK ISPs just 14 days to disclose the names and addresses of individuals the music industry claims have offered "massive" numbers of songs on P2P networks without permission.

The order, made by Mr. Justice Blackburne, follows a request from UK music trade association the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). Earlier this week, it warned it would begin legal proceedings against anyone offering music without authorisation, beginning with a list of 28 people it claims are among the worst offenders.

The identities of the 28 remain unknown, but today's ruling, unless challenged by the ISPs, will allow the BPI to target the alleged music uploaders by name. The organisation said it would offer them the opportunity to settle out of court. But it will seek injunctions against the individuals, along with monetary damages, if they resist.

In the US, similar tactics employed by the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA) have led to many file traders agreeing to stop sharing and to paying an often nominal fine for their actions to date.

However, the RIAA's attempts to force ISPs to disclose names and addresses have run into problems. In January 2004, backing US ISP Verizon, the US District Court of Columbia ruled the RIAA could not force ISPs to hand over such information unless they themselves were subpoenaed. And since ISPs don't store the unauthorised tracks - the users do - that would be difficult.

This week, the US Supreme Court upheld an appeal court ruling that verified the original District Court verdict. ®

Related stories

UK record industry sues 28 file-sharers
MPAA asks Supreme Court to crush P2Pers
UK music biz set to sue file-sharers
Supremes sidestep RIAA's John Doe challenge
US judges blast music labels' attack on ISPs and users

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