British song swappers could be targeted next


— 4:30 AM on July 3, 2003

Not to be outdone by the RIAA, it looks like the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) is considering legal action as a possible weapon against peer-to-peer song swapping. To date, the BPI has only gone after one group that was profiting from P2P piracy. Against more casual pirates, litigation hasn't been ruled out as a last resort, but the BPI seems more interested in education at the moment:

"We have done some things in terms of education," she said. "We sent information to colleges and workplaces - common-sense stuff, really - to see if they are protecting their systems and blocking the software on their machines. We also gave information on sites that offer a legitimate service."
Will education succeed in curbing piracy? I doubt it. The BPI should be able to convince corporations and educational institutions to block popular P2P programs to save bandwidth, but I doubt many P2P users are still under the impression that song swapping is somehow perfectly legal. Information on legitimate song download services may help, but until those services offer prices that can compete with free illegal downloads, I don't see much potential for impact.

In the end, the threat of litigation may be the only thing that curtails online song swapping. If the RIAA or BPI is able to take enough P2P pirates to court to get lots of media coverage, more casual song swappers may thing twice before firing up Kazaa. Will those former song swappers end up buying more CDs or paying for digital downloads? Maybe not. They might just listen to less music.

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