The BPI put their money where their mouth is…

The BPI are taking legal action against UK file sharers who they claim are uploading songs onto peer-to-peer services.

The organisation have announced this morning (October 6) that people based in the UK are being targeted by the action – the first of its kind in the country.

In the UK, the BPI has up to this point opted for a softer approach to that of the US, where the Recording Industry Association Of America (RIAA) have already pursued thousands of file sharers via the courts. In the UK the BPI has spent much of this year on a campaign to warn users that their actions are considered illegal.

However, earlier this week it became clear that the BPI’s stance on file sharing had hardened, with a source telling NME.COM:  “There are a small percentage of hardcore internet users who are uploading material regardless of its illegality. It would appear that litigation is the only way to deter them. It’s becoming pretty obvious that litigation needs to be there as a deterrent.

“The way we’re all feeling is that we’re sitting on a broadband time bomb. Broadband is a key driver in file sharing, we’ve seen it in the US and Germany. What we want is the growth in broadband to be a real stimulant of growth of legal download services. We don’t want to see it destroy our albums market.”

The BPI is the British record industry’s trade association, representing many British record companies. However, artists have not always seen the problem with file sharing.

Earlier this year, Alex Kapranos from Franz Ferdinand gave a lecture on the subject in Edinburgh. He said: “To be honest I’m all for song swapping online. Downloading music from the Internet is something I do myself and something that I’d be keen to encourage.

“From my experience it isn’t necessarily the musicians themselves that are against it, but those companies involved in the music industry.

“The way the music industry is trying to regulate online sites at the minute is very heavy-handed – fining kids for downloading songs is just crazy.

“File-sharing is something that has really helped us as a band in getting established. When Franz Ferdinand played a gig in New York for the first time, a lot of people there already knew our songs and were singing along.

“For us it has been global word of mouth that has helped our progress, not hindered it. I don’t think it is damaging musicians at all. Downloading music is as revolutionary an invention as the gramophone and I’m all for it.”

In tandem with the BPI’s threats, 2004 has been a landmark year for legal downloading in the UK, Napster and iTunes both launching, and Radio 1 broadcasting the first ever official download chart.

A full announcment on the scope of the action will be made later today. Are you facing legal action? NME.COM wants to hear your story. E-mail with a contact number and we’ll get back to you.