File sharing
2 men have been jailed for their part in illegally sharing music files IB Times

Two men who used a website called "Dancing Jesus" where music fans posted links to illegally uploaded tracks have each received substantial prison terms.

Speaking as a music fan, it just doesn't make sense to help criminals when you can support artists
- David Wood (BPI)

Kane Robinson, 26, of North Shields, the site's owner and creator, was sentenced to 32 months and 22-year-old Richard Graham, from Leicestershire, to 21 months at Newcastle Crown Court. Graham, who uploaded 8,00 songs to the site, had earlier pleaded not guilty but changed his plea to guilty when the evidence was presented.

Representing the music industry the British Phonographic Society (BPI) told court that between 2006 and 2011 the "Dancing Jesus" site had allowed users to post links to 250,000 individual tracks, some before their official release date.

"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," said BPI's Copyright Protection Unit director David Wood.

Dancing Jesus
The name for the website came from The Simpsons Dancing Jesus

The BPI played a major part in collating evidence about the illegal sharing of music on Dancing Jesus, along with colleagues from the City of London police, the Intellectual Property Office and US Department of Homeland Security based in Dallas, Texas.

"In this day and age," said Wood, "with so many quality digital music services available offering access to millions of tracks through free and premium tiers, there is no good reason to use pirate sites that give nothing back to artists and offer a substandard experience for consumers. Speaking as a music fan, it just doesn't make sense to help criminals when you can support artists."

The impact of piracy and free streaming on the music industry has been hotly-debated, with some stars claiming the industry is being destroyed whereas others, including Radiohead, have distributed albums for a nominal sum - and sometimes for nothing.

Last week US pop star Taylor Swift announced she was removing all her music from the legal music streaming site Spotify, saying: "I just don't agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free."

However legendary producer of Michael Jackson's "Thriller", Quincy Jones, wrote on Facebook: "Spotify is not the enemy; piracy is the enemy. Spotify is paying out 70% of their revenue to musicians and rightsholders. If I had to release Thriller today, you can be sure I'd want it on Spotify. The genie is not going back in the bottle friends; let's work together to find solutions to the music industry's problems."