Sharing pirated music over the Internet just became a lot more hazardous. The round of recent lawsuits caps a broad investigation that began in June, when music companies said they would begin tracking down heavy users of file-sharing networks. By using a file-sharing program online, anyone can easily determine how many files a particular user is making available to others. These files include those in the format of music, video, picture, or even software. These files are traded many times over by millions of online â€œpiratesâ€, people who upload and download files to one another in an ongoing sea of controversy. Interest groups such as the RIAA feel that online file-sharing perpetrates several regulations over music made in the past, and also state that this â€œpiracyâ€ is leading to many losses suffered by record companies and musicians. However, the American public feels differently; to many, online file-sharing is something they have been practicing carefree for several years now.
In a bold and risky move, the largest music companies made good on months of threats to crack down on users of file-sharing networks, filing separate lawsuits against 261 individuals in federal courts across the U.S. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, the suits target users with large libraries of pirated music (about 1,000 or more songs each) that they make available to others on the Internet through file-sharing programs like KaZaA, Grokster and Blubster. The lawsuits are part of multipronged attack by the recording industry on music â€œpiracyâ€ involving the Internet. Music companies succeeded in getting a federal court to force music pioneer Napster Inc. to shut its service two years ago, but dozens of similar companies have cropped up in its place.
The recording companies promised to file thousands more lawsuits against individuals swapping illegal copies of songs in coming months.