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German Cops Bust 3,500 File Sharers

David A. Utter
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-05-23

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Providing song files to other music fans through the use of the eDonkey file sharing application turned into a pain in the ass when a widespread record industry sweep took place in Germany.

An investigation spurred by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) led to the filing of charges against 3,500 people who uploaded music with eDonkey.

IFPI said some of the accused had provided as many as 8,000 songs for sharing purposes. The organization claims legal physical sales of music have dropped by a third in five years while 400 million music files were illegally downloaded in 2005.

It should be noted that IFPI did not mention the legal sales of digital music in Germany. According to the MacWorld UK website, iTunes and T-Online's Musicload sold a combined 30 million songs online in 2005. That figure likely impacted the physical sales cited by IFPI.

Authorities in Germany searched 130 locations for evidence related to the file sharing investigation. "Most people clearly know that file-sharing without permission is illegal - unfortunately it takes legal actions such as this make a real impact on behavior," said John Kennedy, chairman and CEO of IFPI.

Accused files sharers face five years in prison under German law. In previous cases, file sharers have paid penalties averaging 2,500 euros, or $3,195, for their file sharing.

A five-year sentence would greatly exceed what a German tribunal meted out in 2005 for another computer-related crime. Sven Jaschan, who created the Sasser worm that affected millions of PCs worldwide and caused multi-million dollar disruptions to businesses, skated with a sentence of probation and a skimpy community service requirement.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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