UK court orders ISPs to unmask 33 filesharers

UK record labels quantify damage

A British judge today ordered five ISPs to name another 33 music file sharers. The individuals concerned had uploaded more than 72,000 music files to the internet, according to a statement by the BPI (British Phonographic Industry), which sought the court order as part of its broader legal offensive against illegal downloading on P2P networks.

The ISPs concerned have two weeks to give the UK record companies' trade association the names and addresses of the file sharers. The case brings the number of people in the UK to face legal action for illegal file sharing up to 90. These people will face claims for compensation and the legal costs in pursuing them, the BPI warns.

BPI General Counsel Geoff Taylor said: "This court order should remind every user of a peer-to-peer file sharing service in Britain that they are not anonymous. These 33 people will now face paying thousands of pounds in compensation. We are continuing to collect evidence every day against people who are still uploading music illegally, despite all the warnings we have given. If you want to avoid the risk of court action, stop file sharing and buy music legally."

Today more details of the 31 people subject to the BPI's last round of writs in March 2005 also emerged. Around a third of these defendants are thought to be parents whose accounts have been used to upload music illegally by their children. Eleven of the 31 are from London and the South East. Another file sharer hails from Norfolk while five are from the West Country. Two of the file sharers live in the Midlands, with five from the Yorkshire and the North West. Two of the file sharers are from Northern Ireland, three from Scotland and two from Wales.

Stat attack

A new study commissioned by the BPI shows the supposed extent of the damage that illegal file sharing is doing to the UK recording industry. A two-year study, carried out by research group TNS, on the effect of illegal file sharing on consumer spending in the UK found the downloaders spent a £654m less on recorded music over the last two years than otherwise be the case.

TNS estimates that downloaders' spend on recorded music was around £730m in 2002. Had their habits reflected overall market trends, spending would have increased to £767m in 2003 and declined slightly to £745m in 2004. However, downloaders' spend actually declined by 33 per cent over 2003 and a further 24.5 per cent in 2004 - a spending shortfall of £654m over two years.

TNS data shows that 18 per cent of the UK population aged 12-74 are downloading music from the internet, most doing so illegally from file sharing networks. The failure to differentiate legal and illegally downloading in these figures is a major shortcoming and provides ammunitition for critics who would say it illustrates the musics industry's ongoing inability to understand alternative sales channel.

Nonetheless, the BPI reckons its efforts are turning the tide against illegal file sharing. Of those not downloading, 84.3 per cent said they "would not consider" file sharing illegally. One in seven (15 per cent) of illegal downloaders said they will start to pay for downloads, but 34 per cent are undecided and 51 per cent said they will continue to file share. ®

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