RIAA Bring Additional Legal Actions in the US Against Alleged File Swappers as French and German Sales of CDs Decline

March 2004

Record Labels, Internet

The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has filed a further 532 lawsuits against alleged music pirates. Since losing the appeal in their action against Verizon (see Law Updates February 2004) the RIAA now have to file ‘John Doe’ suits in the US identifying their alleged downloader by their Internet Protocol address. Once a “John Doe” suit has been filed, the plaintiffs (RIAA member labels) can subpoena the information necessary to identify the defendant by name. The RIAA – Verizon (2003) case resulted in a decision by the federal appeals court that the information subpoena process allowed by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) cannot be used in infringement cases involving peer-to-peer networks. In the UK, the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) have said that they would also now consider taking legal action against the ‘worst offending’ internet file swappers.

Meanwhile, facing their first annual sales decline in recent memory, officials from France, the world’s fourth largest music market, said that they would also fight back with lawsuits.
French music industry trade body SNEP reported that recorded music sales fell 14.6% in revenues in 2003 to just under 2.1 billion euros – blaming the growth in file-sharing services such as Kazaa and possibly CD-copying by home users. The French music industry had defied the odds for much of the past decade – growing annually while CD sales in the rest of Western Europe and the US dipped as file-sharing and physical piracy proliferated.

Also, in Germany, music sales collapsed last year in step with a surge in unauthorized music file swapping and piracy, putting a big question mark behind the future of Europe’s biggest market. Sales of CDs collapsed by an estimated 20 percent in 2003 according to the German Phonographic Industry Association, Phonoverband. German music sales have now fallen by one-third over the past five years – the highest decline in Europe. Although the turnover of Germany’s music industry dropped by more than 11 percent to less than 2 billion Euros in 2002, the 20 percent contraction estimated for 2003 has shocked many industry analysts. The growing spread of piracy and swapping music files is only part of the problem, with consumers increasingly opening their wallets to other forms of entertainment (stiff competition, especially from cell-phones and computer games).
See : http://www.faz.com/IN/INtemplates/eFAZ/docmain.asp?rub=%7BB1311FCE-FBFB-11D2-B228-00105A9CAF88%7D&doc=%7B52B3316E-8A91-4D6B-8064-B87A79E2F153%7D


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