Almost half those targeted in an Irish crackdown on people accused of illegally sharing copyrighted music tracks on the Internet have agreed to settle out of court, a music industry spokesman said.
After Ireland's High Court compelled Internet service providers to provide Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) with the names of those involved in illegal music sharing on the Internet, the Association threatened to begin legal proceedings against 17 people they accused of being "serial offenders."
Eight of those targeted have admitted liability and paid damages of between 2,000 euros (2,460 dollars) and over 6,000 euros to avoid court action.
"The first two were in touch with 24 hours of receiving the letters. They have agreed to clean up their act and have given an undertaking not to err in the future," IRMA director general, Dick Doyle, told RTE state radio.
Among those who have settled are parents who admitted liability on behalf of their children and a company that did not know an employee was using its computer system for illegal file-sharing.
Doyle said the message from the music industry should be clear.
"We are going after people. Our industry is being decimated."
Abuse of copyright on the Internet has contributed to a 28-million-euro drop in music sales in Ireland between 2001 and 2004, a decline of 19 percent, according to IRMA.
Doyle said music had never been cheaper. Files could be downloaded from legal Internet sites for 99 cents a song.
IRMA represents 47 members in Ireland, including major and independent record companies.