Ministry of Sound gets tough on illegal downloaders



UK record label Ministry of Sound has spoken out against people who've illegally shared its music online.

The label went to court on Monday (4 October) asking for the names and addresses of 2,000 people it claims have illegally distributed its music.

The case has been adjourned until 2011 after the judge said Ministry needed to prove people were illegal downloaders.

Lohan Presencer, Ministry's CEO, said: "We can't afford to have our business and artists stolen from any more."

"What's the alternative?" asked the Ministry boss.

"If I ran a shop and someone came into the shop and started stealing things off the shelves, should I just allow that to happen?

"We can't afford to have our business and artists stolen from us any more and we have to take some action."


Internet piracy has been growing rapidly over the last 10 years.

BitTorrent websites give access to music files that can be downloaded without any payment, unlike legal sites such as iTunes where music can be legally downloaded.

Ministry of Sound at the Millennium Dome 2002
Image caption Ministry of Sound is more commonly associated with its nightclub in London

Lohan Presencer says it's time record labels fought back: "Every record company has been suffering from piracy. These people are stealing.

"I'm afraid you can sit on the sidelines or you can say, 'No this is wrong'."

The label has already had thousands of letters sent out on its behalf. Some people have already agreed to pay hundreds of pounds to avoid court action.

Emily from Derby was caught downloading an album and got a letter in the post offering her few options.

She said: "If we didn't pay within two they were taking us to court." Emily paid up.

But others who've had letters claim they've been unfairly accused.

Matt from Basingstoke told Newsbeat that despite getting a letter, he's never downloaded illegally and maybe it was someone using his wi-fi connection.

Dan said he couldn't remember downloading the album they said he'd downloaded and that he'd see them in court.

Unnecessary worry

Ministry of Sound is confident it will eventually get the information it wants from BT-owned internet service provider (ISP) PlusNet.

But BT, the UK's largest broadband company, has already said it's unhappy with the way some law firms are trying to stop possible illegal downloaders.

It follows last week's leak of the personal details of thousands of broadband users suspected of sharing material illegally online.

It wants Ministry's demand to become a test case, with a judge deciding what is acceptable when it comes to taking on illegal downloaders.

BT says it wants to ensure broadband subscribers are adequately protected.

In a statement it told Newsbeat that rights holders should be able to make claims for copyright infringement but without causing unnecessary worry to innocent people.