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U.K. gets tough on music swappers

British music industry is likely to bring further legal action against those accused of illegally downloading tunes.

The U.K. music industry has compared the fight against illegal online file sharing with curbing drunk driving.

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) is likely to bring further legal action against U.K. citizens accused of sharing copyright-protected files over the Internet.

Late last week the BPI won a court ruling that will force six ISPs to name 31 subscribers suspected of illegally sharing music.

Speaking on Monday, a BPI spokesman suggested that last Friday's legal success--which followed a similar court action in October--will prove to be just one part of a long-term process of changing people's behavior online through legal action.

"In terms of behavioral change, the U.K. government has broadcast the dangers of drunk driving, but people still drunk drive," said the BPI spokesman.

The ISPs involved in the case now have 14 days to provide the names sought by the BPI. The individuals named will then be invited to settle the charges, probably by paying a fine of around $3,820 (2,000 pounds).

The BPI hopes that the amount of publicity generated by last week's court success will deter Internet users from uploading copyright material to file-swapping networks.

But despite the group's tough stance, the spokesman recognized that the BPI is still facing an uphill struggle to convince file-swappers that they are in the wrong.

"We're reluctant to say, 'OK, the job's done. Let's spend money on making records,'" the BPI spokesman said. "I suspect that the problem won't go away just because we've launched two rounds of litigation."

Graeme Wearden of ZDNet UK reported from London.