UK music industry wins lawsuits against file-sharers

Out-Law News | 30 Jan 2006 | 2:04 pm | 1 min. read

Two men have been found liable for unlawful file-sharing in Britain and ordered to pay thousands of pounds in damages, the British Phonographic Industry announced on Friday.

The two unnamed men have been ordered to stop file-sharing and now face bills for legal costs and damages.

The BPI began taking legal action against users of peer-to-peer networks like Kazaa in October 2004. It has settled the majority of the 139 legal cases it has launched so far – with some individuals paying up to £6,500 to avoid a court case.

In August, the industry association announced that it had filed formal legal proceedings against five identified file-sharers who were refusing to settle.

Courts have now issued what the BPI is describing as “landmark” rulings in two of these cases.

In the first case, a man from King’s Lynn argued that the BPI had no direct evidence of infringement. This was rejected by the High Court and summary judgment was granted to the BPI without the need for a trial.

The man has been ordered to make an immediate payment of £5,000. Total costs are estimated at £13,500 and final damages are expected to take the bill even higher.

In the second case, a postman from Brighton sought to defend the case against him on the grounds that he was unaware that what he was doing was illegal and did not seek to gain financially.

"Ignorance is not a defence," said Judge Justice Lawrence Collins.

The defendant was ordered to make an immediate payment of £1,500, pending final determination of costs and damages.

The BPI is currently seeking settlements in a further 51 cases launched last December. The file-sharers, from the length and breadth of the UK, have been given a deadline of 31st January to settle cases and avoid costly court action.

"We have been very patient litigators,” said BPI General Counsel Roz Groome. “We have given these people every opportunity to settle. Only when they refused to settle did we take them to court, which has now found in our favour. These rulings are a massive step forward in the music industry's bid to fight illegal file-sharing."

“We would warn anyone else tempted to illegally upload and download music to cease immediately. The legal penalties can be significant,” she added.