New wave of lawsuits against European P2P users
The music industry has launched a new wave of lawsuits against individual P2P users in Europe. For the first time individual users were targeted in Finland, Ireland, Iceland and the Netherlands. These countries join Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and the UK, where litigation started last year.
During a press conference in the Netherlands on 12 April 2005, in the presence of IFPI CEO John Kennedy, the local representative of the entertainment industry Brein announced it would start 32 court cases against individual alleged infringers. In order to obtain the identifying data of the users behind IP-addresses from which music was unlawfully uploaded, Brein will sue five Dutch internet providers (Planet Internet, Het Net, @Home, Wanadoo and Tiscali). These 5 providers had agreed earlier in April to forward complaints from the right holders to their customers. In total, Brein sent 50 intimidating cease and desist letters, demanding the recipient would identify him- or herself, agree to pay an average fine of 2.100 euro and sign a unlimited binding agreement to never ever "directly or indirectly be involved in any way or have an interest in unlawfully distributing materials on the internet". If ever again cought in such a very broadly defined act, the signee agrees to pay a fine of 5.000 euro per day.
Only 7 people were shocked into signing all their rights away. None of the providers handed over the identifying data voluntarily, claiming only a judge could define if such a privacy violation was legitimate. EDRI-member Bits of Freedom has an anonymised copy of one of these letters on its website (in Dutch only).
According to an international IFPI press release 248 people in Europe have faced sanctions or paid fines or compensation averaging more than 3,000 euro each. IFPI also seems extremely proud of prosecuting professionals: "Those who are paying the price of piracy include a German judge, a French cook and a British local councillor." With the 9.900 cases already dealt with or pending in the US, in total IFPI is now dealing with 11.552 lawsuits.
E-zine The Register reports that in the UK on 19 April a judge ordered 5 ISPs to hand over the identifying data of 33 filesharers. The case brings the number of people in the UK to face legal action for illegal file sharing up to 90.
IFPI press release (12.04.2005)
Letter Brein (in Dutch, 31.03.2005)
UK court orders ISPs to reveal IDs of 33 filesharers (19.04.2005)