Online Music Swappers Taking Notice of Lawsuit Threat

They're going after the little guys they say cost millions. The recording industry says starting Thursday, they're looking to sue individual computer users that have been swapping music files over the internet.  They'll be going after as much as $150,000 per downloaded song.

"It's' the next logical step in the things they can do to people," says musician and music downloader Bryce Cathey.  He and his three roommates use file-swapping software on their computer.

"I download two or three songs when I see an album that I like and consider buying," he says -- and they do, then download the rest of the tracks.  With the cd's in hand, possession of the 2,500 songs on his computer would then be legal. But record labels say most don't play by any rules. And the top DJ's at radio station The Blaze say it's all out of hand.

"It's gotten to a point that it's uncontrollable, and the industry's losing a lot of money," says mid-day host Marcus Love.

Around the nation, music sales are down 20 percent in three years. That's profit of the artists they play on The Blaze.

"The difference between [artists] making money and breaking even may be the music -- sales that they lost on the Internet -- from file swapping," he says.

Blaze Program Director LT says, "If I got hit with a hundred dollar fine, I'm stopping."

He says song swapping isn't anything new. But until now, it's hasn't been with the world.

"You've got more songs on there that you've got access to, and it's not your friend down the block that you're getting it from," LT says.

"The musicians have to do something to support themselves," agrees Bryce. He and his three roommates are in a band -- working now to make sure the record labels don't come after them with a lawsuit.

Though Bryce and his friends have 2500 songs, they had moved the files to another place on the computer, where they're not available to others.  Bryce also says most of the songs they can possess legally, and are weeding out the few they can't.

Legal experts say for those who do get sued, the law is clear and there is little defense.

Reported by Morgan Palmer