The U.K. record industry is claiming a landmark victory after the High Court ordered two men to pay thousands of pounds in fines and damages for illegally distributing music downloads using file-sharing software.
In the first case, a man from King's Lynn was ordered to stop file sharing illegally and to make an immediate payment of 5,000 pounds ($8,868.22) to the BPI, the British recording industry's trade association. The High Court rejected the man's defense that the BPI had no evidence of infringement and granted the summary judgment without the need for a trial.
The man now faces a bill for costs estimated at 13,500 pounds ($23,972.52), with damages set to take that figure even higher.
In the second case, a postman from Brighton claimed that he was unaware that his actions were illegal and that he did not seek financial gain from his file-sharing activities.
His case also was thrown out of court, with Judge Justice Lawrence Collins declaring that "ignorance is not a defense." The man was ordered to make an immediate payment of 1,500 pounds ($2,662.11), pending final determination of costs and damages.
The BPI has declined to name the two men.
"The courts have spoken, and their verdict is unequivocal: Unauthorized file sharing is against the law. We have long said that unauthorized file sharing is damaging the music industry, and stealing the future of artists and the people who invest in them," BPI's executive chairman, Peter Jamieson, said in a statement.
The BPI said it has settled the majority of the 139 legal cases it has launched against individual file sharers since October 2004. Some defendants paid as much as 6,500 pounds ($11,534.41) to avoid going to court.
Andy McCue of Silicon.com reported from London.