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Bootleg police nab 28 UK music pirates

7 October 2004

The UKís record industry today announced it would prosecute 28 music pirates caught downloading tracks illegally from the web, writes the Guardian.

The British Phonographic Industry, the trade body which represents the countryís record labels, will also go after anyone making their music collections available on the web for others to download for free.

Their move follows in the footsteps of US labels that sparked a huge row last year after a 12-year-old schoolgirl in New York was sued for downloading songs and ended up paying £12,000 in an out of court settlement.

The UK government's Department of Work and Pensions has also recently gone after 57 people who were charged with optical disc fraud after detectives from 'Operation Zouk' raided markets and car boot sales in late July and early August.

The BPIís move comes as the global music industry is suffering significant financial losses, with singles sales in the UK dropping to half of their 1999 levels, a shift which the business attributes to illegal downloading and fileswapping. The industry is worried that album sales will follow suit once broadband becomes more widespread, since it allows much faster download times for large files such as albums.

The BPIís announcement comes after months of pursuing persistent offenders via 350,000 instant messages which were sent in order to create paranonoia amongst downloaders who use sites such as Kazaa and Grokster.

The industry believes their legalistic shift will help what they see as a PR battle for the minds of the iPod-loving public who must be imbued with the understanding that file-swapping is illegal, and that there are a host of legal alternatives such as Apple's iTunes  and Napster, or new services offered from the likes of Coca-Cola, Microsoft , Oxfam  and Woolworths.

Meanwhile, reports today also indicate that the free giveaway music CDs often attached to newspapers and magazines could soon be a thing of the past. Music retailers are threatening to stop stocking product from bands who appear on the free CDs, some 23 millions of which have been given away by publications such as Time Out, the Observer or the Sunday Mirror.

The Guardian (always quick off the mark with IP news) reports that two weeks ago the Sun gave away a CD of tracks chosen by columnist Jeremy Clarkson, including Wheatus's Teenage Dirtbag and songs by The Darkness and Stereophonics. Last weekend, the Observer gave away a five-track Libertines CD featuring the band's last two singles.

CD giveaways are big business for newspapers, with the right promotion meaning a gain of up to 20% in circulation. The Mail on Sunday recorded an increase of 450,00 copies sold after it ran a Beach Boys CD covermount recently.

Retailers told musicians to stop committing "financial suicide" by giving away their music on free CDs, even if it did help spark interest or new fans.

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