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Ministry of Sound and the backlash against file sharers

We talk to one of the Ministry of Sound's lawyers about the letters they sent to file sharers and the wider problem affecting the music industry.

The Ministry of Sound record label has decided to take a stand against file sharers, sending out letters via its law firm Gallant Macmillan to potential guilty parties.

With the music industry experiencing a raft of problems in the current economic climate, there could be an escalation of legal battles between record companies and file sharers in the coming months and years.

We spoke to Simon Gallant, one of the partners at Gallant Macmillan which specialises in media law and intellectual property, about the case and what impact it could have on the wider problem of file-sharing and the music industry.

What has been your involvement in this kind of case before?

We've only just started doing this work. We are working for our client Ministry of Sound and we work with a German software company called DigiRights, who go on file-sharing sites and they identify IP addresses that are making available Ministry of Sound music.

It has been a real problem for Ministry of Sound but I think also for large parts of the industry. I think the client has reached the point where it has become exasperated by the level of downloading that is going on, or uploading I should say because that is the activity that we can identify from the software.

So what is the problem that Ministry of Sound has with file sharers?

It is the making available, it is the distribution to the world [of Ministry of Sound music] and that is having an impact on revenue that my client is generating. It is having an impact on the revenue it can pay to artists.

[With] the particular campaign we are running, astonishing numbers of people are making this available. We are talking about 41,000 IP addresses. That doesn't necessarily correlate with 41,000 people, obviously, but it is a wide scale problem.

I think that it is a cultural issue. I think people have got used to being able to file share. Nobody would dream of going into HMV and walking out without paying. Even more to the point they wouldn't dream of reproducing CDs and just giving them out to other people for free. Ministry of Sound feels, I think along with a lot of the industry, that it needs to take a stand.

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