Two internet pirates behind illegal music internet forum Dancing Jesus, which could have cost the industry more than STG240 million ($A438.
08 million), have been jailed in Britain.
The forum allowed members to post tens of thousands of illegal links to songs, often before they had been released, undermining record labels.
Site owner and administrator Kane Robinson, 26, was jailed for two years and eight months at Newcastle Crown Court after he admitted earlier this year illegally distributing music.
More than 22,500 links to 250,000 individual titles were made available on Dancing Jesus between 2006 and 2011.
The site had more than 70 million user visits during its life span.
If half of them illegally downloaded a single track, the cost to the industry would be around STG35 million, but if half of them downloaded a whole album for free, the cost would be STG242 million.
Richard Graham, 22, was jailed for 21 months. He illegally distributed thousands of files on Dancing Jesus, including about 8000 tracks, around two-thirds of which were pre-release.
Graham pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to illegally distributing music.
Judge Deborah Sherwin said it would be easy to consider such activities a victimless crime but added that piracy reduced the ability of the industry to promote and fund new artists.
After the case, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) said it linked up with other organisations including the US Department of Homeland Security and City of London Police to investigate Dancing Jesus in 2010.
The inquiry identified the creator and operator of the site as Robinson and in September 2011 he was arrested. The servers were seized in an operation involving law enforcement in Dallas.
The director of the BPI’s Copyright Protection Unit, David Wood, said: “(This) sentencing sends a clear message to the operators and users of illegal music sites that online piracy is a criminal activity that will not be tolerated by law enforcement in the UK or overseas.
“Piracy – particularly pre-release – can make or break an artist’s career, and can determine whether a record label is able to invest in that crucial second or third album.