Finnish authorities gear up for strikes against peer-to-peer file sharing networks
IFPI Finland sends 28 requests for investigation by police over piracy
In keeping with moves in several other countries, steps are now being taken by Finnish authorities to stamp out illegal distribution of copyright music material via the Internet.
Suomen Ääni- ja kuvatallennetuottajat (ÄKT, the Finnish Branch of IFPI) have sent police requests for investigations of 28 individuals who they would like to see brought to justice for net piracy through the peer-to-peer file sharing networks.
ÄKT wants prosecutions brought against persons who have been spreading music through file sharing applications such as BitTorrent, KaZaa, eDonkey, and eMule.
The intention is not apparently to target those users who have been downloading small quantities of music for their own use, but individuals who have offered up files for thousands to download. ÄKT argues that these persons are guilty of illegal distribution of music that is subject to copyright, and that the time has come to put a stop to the practice, through the courts if need be.
In cases elsewhere in the world, fines have usually been handed down for persons found guilty. In May 2001 a 25-year-old man from Jyväskylä was obliged to pay fines and compensation totalling FIM 32,000 (EUR 5,400) in a similar case.
The requests to the police represent the first concerted Finnish involvement in an extensive international operation targeting illegal file sharing and safeguarding authors' rights and the legal end of online sales.
Cases have already been brought against users of peer-to-peer networks in the United States, Denmark, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Austria. Aside from Finland, countries such as Iceland, The Netherlands, Ireland, and Japan have now come on board.
This week a record number of 963 cases have been launched, and in all nearly 12,000 such cases are being heard.
In the background to the dispute over file sharing are the fears of the music industry, which has seen a decline in sales worldwide of around 20% over the past five years.
Last year alone, legal sales of recorded music in Finland fell by 12.5% in value terms.
Film producers, manufacturers of computer games, and software suppliers are equally dismayed and angry at the free distribution of their wares among potential paying customers.
The increasing public awareness of the illegality of the activity has had some effect.
Apparently the number of users of one such peer-to-peer arrangement, KaZaa, have declined from 4.2 million to 2.3 million, in spite of an increased number of people now enjoying the broadband connection speeds that facilitate large downloads - for example entire feature films, often available illegally online before they reach the cinemas.
However, if KaZaa's popularity is waning, it has been replaced by another application, BitTorrent.
Sites using BitTorrent have been forced to close by action from authorities in several countries, Finland among them. In December of last year, the country's largest file-sharing server was forced to go offline following a request to police from the Business Software Alliance (see attached story).
Previously in HS International Edition:
Illegal software and film downloads exhaust university computer networks (29.3.2005)
Police swoop closes down Finland´s largest file download site (16.12.2004)