Music downloaders face hefty fines in piracy crackdown
Sunday April 10th 2005
HUNDREDS of music downloaders and file sharers could be prosecuted in a devastating crackdown on internet piracy unleashed by the majorrecord companies.
People who have illicitly downloaded songs including U2's Vertigo and Paddy Casey's Saints and Sinners could face fines of up to €5,800 if prosecuted. This could include the parents of children who have spent hours on the internet pirating songs for iPods or creating their own CDs, echoing the case when a 12-year-old New York school girl, Brianna LaHara, was sued by US record companies in late 2003. The Irish Record Music Association (IRMA), which represents the record companies, has prepared affidavits against close to 20 individuals, who are alleged to have distributed or "uploaded" shared files or illegally pirated music on the internet. Up to 250,000 people are thought to have illegally downloaded music here last year, according to IRMA data.
It is understood that the first 20 or so cases will be taken against these uploaders, but that a concerted campaign over the next three years will target more casual file sharers, with sources suggesting that "hundreds and hundreds" could be pursued.
IRMA is set to go to the High Court to force Irish internet service providers to divulge the identity of the initial 20 targeted internet accounts used for uploading the pirated music. In December, IRMA hired a US spy firmto monitor internet traffic from Ireland downloading thousands of specially selected tracks, ranging from well-known Irish acts suchas U2 and the Corrs to hip hop stars such as Eminem and 50 Cent.