European file swappers look set to face the same legal challenges as those of US consumers, according to the BPI (British Phonographic Institute) which is pushing forward with its campaign against illegal downloads.

Speaking at an IT event last night, BPI director general Andrew Yeates said the group was working to increase consumer awareness about the legal implications of file-sharing to push people towards legal download services.

Two such services provided by Apple's iTunes and Roxio's revamped Napster are set to launch in the UK later this year. If they successfully encourage users to opt for legitimate services then Yeates said there may be no need for legal action.

If the BPI does pursue legal action then, according to Yeates, it will do so in a "proportional" fashiongoing after heavy users rather than occasional swappers.

In the US, the Riaa (Recording Industry Association of America) has taken a harsh stance against illega, l downloaders, targeting even young children and the elderly generating a stream of negative publicity for itself in the process.

Despite the alleged threat to CD sales caused by file swappers, the UK saw a 7.6 percent increase in CD album sales last year.