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Thursday, September 11, 2003
Music firms claim public backing

The US music industry has said a slim majority of the public supports its campaign against online song-swappers. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) released a survey showing that 52% backed the move.

It questioned 800 people for the poll, two days before targeting 261 individuals for distributing songs on the internet without permission.

The RIAA says piracy is hitting sales, but critics say CD prices are too high.

In the survey, 52% said they supported the music industry's position, while 21% said they did not support it.

However, the association is facing a barrage of criticism for taking ordinary citizens to court.

Many defendants named in the lawsuits said they were not aware they were breaking the law and were first informed of their legal troubles by the media.

One person named in the lawsuits was Jeani Ziering of Manhattan, New York.

Her 26-year-old son - who said he was living on welfare benefits and only had $100 in his bank account - told the Reuters news agency it was him who had been downloading tracks using the internet.

Under copyright law, defendants could face penalties of up to $150,000 (94,000) per song, but settlements are expected.

The RIAA insists it is only going after those that download "substantial amounts" of copyrighted songs.

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