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0 comments | Tuesday, November 28, 2006

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Since it's an incredibly slow tech news day today, I'm going to go back to the stories I did over the years and try to count in which countries lawsuits have been filed and won against individuals for pirating music.

I know it's of little comfort to US citizens, but there are still some countries where people haven't been receiving lawsuits for a little Emule or Soulseek downloading. And by this I don't mean people who earn thousands or millions by selling pirated stuff - I mean users who don't do this for profit. However, the plague is spreading. Let's see which countries have been struck so far (feel free to comment and add to the list, I'm sure I missed some).

1. USA - the obvious one. It's basically RIAA's playground, as they can do their "john doe" lawsuits here without bullying other countries into changing their laws, and in the USA they've been happily pursuing their tactic of "lots of stick and an old withered carrot", arresting people left and right and advocating DRM-laden crappy formats in exchange. First wave of lawsuits were launched back in 2003 (263 people were sued), and to my knowledge this number is near 20.000 American individuals at this moment.
2. Germany - as far as I know, over 7000 German citizens have been sued for pirating music by the IFPI (International Federation of Phonographic Industry). As a result, these people mostly had to pay a fine of 2500 Euros.
3. United Kingdom - At August 2005, first lawsuits were handed to some unlucky individuals in the UK. The fines were hefty - up to 6500 pounds.
4. Ireland
5. The Netherlands
6. Finland
7. Iceland
8. Japan - the above 4 countries and Japan got hit in April 2005, in a wave of 963 lawsuits. This brought the total number of worldwide lawsuits to 11.000 (it's now well over 20.000).
9. China - according to this news item, a year ago there have been over 1000 lawsuits over music piracy in China. They weren't filed by the IFPI, and by the look of it it seems that the people targetted were sellers, not regular users, but people got sued nevertheless.
10. France - Oh yes, they have been preparing it for a long time, and the first lawsuit, against a teacher who did some p2p-ing, was filed at the beginning of 2005.
11. Norway
12. Belgium - well, for these two I haven't yet seen any "John Doe" style lawsuits, but people have been sued and/or arrested, that's for sure. Read here, and here.
13. Austria
14. Denmark
15. Italy
16. Portugal
17. Sweden
18. Switzerland
- the latest big wave, or, as our friends in the IFPI like to call it, "fresh wave" of lawsuits, covered some of the aforementioned as well as these 6 countries. Networks affected were FastTrack (Kazaa), Gnutella (BearShare), eDonkey, DirectConnect, BitTorrent, Limewire, WinMX, and SoulSeek (I use eMule, suckers - ed.)(oh, wait... - ed.). This fun little exercise in righteousness brought the number of international lawsuits (USA excluded) to 5.500). Average legal settlement - 2600 Euros.

If you think that it would have been an easier task to simply count the countries with no lawsuits, you're almost right, but there are still a few good examples. Australia is getting really close, but there have been no lawsuits against individuals yet. In most Eastern European countries there has been no talk of such lawsuits, yet. I guess most of the former SSSR territory is also still lawsuit-free, as well as Africa and a large portion of South America. Well, if you plan on moving to another country, choose wisely...

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