[rumori] Denmark Bills Users for Downloads

From: Carrie McLaren (carrieATstayfreemagazine.org)
Date: Thu Dec 12 2002 - 12:04:17 PST

Denmark Bills Users for Downloads
By Peter Rojas

Story location: http://www.wired.com/news/digiwood/0,1412,56717,00.html
02:00 AM Dec. 11, 2002 PT
A group affiliated with the Danish music, film and software
industries has been sending out invoices to users of peer-to-peer
file-sharing networks like Kazaa and eDonkey, demanding payment for
downloaded copies of songs, movies or video games.
Earlier this year, AntiPiratGruppen (Anti-Piracy Group) began
tracking the activities of Danish users of file-sharing networks, and
then contacting the appropriate Internet service providers demanding
users' names and addresses.

Late last month, with contact information in hand, the group began
mailing out invoices, charging $8 per album, $25 per movie and $40
per video game that appeared in a user's shared folder. The group
threatened invoice recipients with legal action should
the sum demanded remain unpaid.

Approximately 150 people received invoices averaging $400, said
Morten Wind Lindegaard, an attorney with AntiPiratGruppen, with some
users receiving bills for more than $10,000 for their alleged
infringement. Roughly half of the people billed have
actually elected to pay, taking the group up on its offer to settle
the case if half the amount demanded is paid and the users delete the
material from their hard drives, he says.

All funds collected will go to the proper copyright holders, in this
case the Danish industry groups that created AntiPiratGruppen in the
first place.

The group's actions have already had a noticeable effect, said
Lindegaard: "It's now harder to find Danish stuff on Kazaa, and we
have made it known that it is illegal to download music, games and
movies using Kazaa, and we hope that more people will
choose not to share copyrighted materials on the Internet."

Could targeting users in the same way happen in the United States?
The Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture
Association of America, the two entertainment industry trade groups
that have fought most vigorously against
file-sharing, have largely avoided going after individuals, choosing
instead to focus the bulk of their efforts on suing the companies
that provide the software programs and servers used by peer-to-peer

There is something of a precedent for what AntiPiratGruppen is doing.
The Business Software Alliance, an anti-piracy trade group
representing software companies like Microsoft, Adobe and Symantec,
has long used a similar approach to combat business
software piracy. The BSA sends letters to companies suspected of
having installed illegal copies of programs like Adobe Photoshop and
Microsoft Office, giving them an opportunity to fess up and pay
licensing fees rather than face legal action.

A spokesperson for the RIAA refused to comment on whether or not
similar tactics might be employed in the United States to combat the
sharing of MP3s, saying only that they support the Danish group in
their enforcement efforts.

However in October of this year, the RIAA filed suit against Verizon
for refusing to turn over the identity of a DSL subscriber accused of
sharing hundreds of music files, a move that might be a prelude to
actions similar to those taken in Denmark.

While the RIAA and the Motion Picture Association of America might be
well within their rights to go after people who download music using
file-sharing networks, sending out letters to teenagers demanding
money might not be in their best interests.

"I don't expect many people would pay, because they just don't accept
these industries' view of copyright," said Wendy Seltzer, of the
Chilling Effects Clearinghouse, a group that monitors legal threats
that stifle online activity. "Besides, the RIAA and
the MPAA have avoided going after end users so far because
individuals are more sympathetic defendants than software companies."

Carrie McLaren
Editor, Stay Free!
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