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Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Song-swap settlement reached

The US recording industry has announced settlements with some of the internet users it sued for music swapping.

It has reached a deal with 52 of 261 people targeted over allegations they had illegally permitted music to be downloaded from their computers.

Under the agreement they have been ordered to destroy copies of illegally downloaded songs.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) plans to file hundreds more lawsuits in October.

The RIAA did not say how much it had collected, but defence lawyers said payments ranged from $2,500 (1,500) to $7,500 (4,500) each, with at least one settlement for as much as $10,000 (6,000).

The settlements do not include any admission of wrongdoing, although the users must agree to "not make any public statements that are inconsistent" with the agreement.

The RIAA, which represents the world's big record labels, said 12 more internet users had agreed to pay unspecified amounts after they learned they might be sued.

It said 838 people had requested amnesty from future lawsuits, in exchange for a formal admission they illegally shared music and a pledge to delete songs from their computers.

RIAA President Cary Sherman said: "The music community's efforts have triggered a national conversation, especially between parents and kids, about what's legal and illegal when it comes to music on the internet.

"In the end it will be decided not in the courtrooms, but at kitchen tables across the country."

But Greg Bildson, chief operating and technology officer for LimeWire, a popular file-sharing service, said: "This isn't a legal matter, this is a PR event."

The RIAA had filed 261 lawsuits against what it described as "major offenders" illegally distributing on average more than 1,000 copyrighted music files each.

Lawyers and activists said more settlements were inevitable.

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