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Firms could be liable for staff MP3 downloads

Daniel Thomas
The music industry's proposals to sue individual computer users who download music illegally could have an enormous legal and financial impact on companies that knowingly permit their employees to download media content, analysts have warned.

Last month, the Recording Industry Association of America threatened to sue hundreds of individual computer users for illegally sharing music files online. It said it will begin to examine file-sharing networks as a way of identifying users who offer "substantial" numbers of MP3 files to download. It expects to file several hundred lawsuits by the beginning of September.

The RIAA recently won a court ruling that enables it to force internet service providers to reveal the names and addresses of IP address owners. If a company is found to be liable for copyright infringement by allowing its employees to use the corporate network to illegally download music, it could face serious legal action. Fines could potentially be as much as $150,000 (£90,000) per pirated song plus legal costs, analyst firm Gartner warned last week.

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