LONDON (Reuters) - The piracy-battered music industry will for the first time sue British, French and Austrian music fans, including a French school teacher, as it intensifies its legal crackdown on Internet song-swappers.
The drive singles out users of such popular file-sharing networks as Kazaa, eDonkey, and Gnutella where Internet users can download and exchange songs for free.
Trade group the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) said on Thursday it filed 459 criminal and civil lawsuits against some of the most prolific users of Internet file-sharing networks in the UK, France and Austria. The number includes a second wave of suits in Germany, Italy and Denmark.
Rather than going for people simply downloading songs for their own use, they specifically target "uploaders" or those who share their music collection with others, thus creating a vast market in free tunes.
Among the 28 Britons accused of illegal file-sharing, one amassed a cache of 9,000 music tracks, the IFPI said. French police, meanwhile, said a teacher in his late 20s was found to have thousands of songs downloaded onto his computer.
Under a new French counterfeit law, the man faces up to three years in jail and a 30,000 euro ($36,900) fine. His trial begins in December. Also, 50 other French citizens face lawsuits, French music officials said.
"We are taking this action as a last resort and we are doing it after a very long public awareness campaign," said IFPI chairman Jay Berman, adding that their own statistics show 15 percent of file-sharers are responsible for supplying 75 percent of the illicit files to these networks.
The IFPI warned that more countries will be added to the dragnet in coming months, possibly as early as January.
I don't use either Kazaa, eDonkey, or Gnutella and no longer share mp3's,are any of you sharing mp3's?