The UK music industry warns the seven million-plus people using illegal sites to stop...

The British music industry has announced it will begin issuing warnings to online song swappers – it’s strongest declaration yet that lawsuits are on the way.

It will use a new instant messaging campaign on the Internet to warn users when they are obtaining music illegally. It will also tell serial downloaders to disable their file-sharing software or face court action.

“The message we want to put out today is that file-sharers are on notice that if they continue with their activities they risk court action,” said a spokesman for the British Phonograph Industry (BPI) today (March 25).

The warning follows figures released yesterday claiming that there are eight million downloaders in Britain, 92 percent of whom are using file-sharing services to get free music.

The research provides the clearest evidence yet that downloading is directly linked to declining CD sales, showing that downloaders’ spending on albums is down 32 percent and 59 percent for singles.

The latest warning from the BPI suggests the organisation is moving closer to the legal download crackdown already being implemented in the US. Since September the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has sued hundreds of music fans sharing their songs over the Internet.