Pop-ups will warn computer users they can be tracked down Illegal file-sharers beware: Big Brother is watching you, in the form of the Hong Kong music industry. From now on, people using peer-to-peer computer software to share music are likely to get a pop-up message warning that what they are doing is illegal and that they can be tracked down. It is part of the industry's drive to crack down on practices it claims have slashed retail music sales in the city by almost 75 per cent since 2000. 'The most important message that we want to send by tracking them is that we want to let them know that they can be identified, that they might be prosecuted,' Ricky Fung, chief executive officer of the International Federation of Phonographic Industry (Hong Kong Group), said yesterday. The message reads: 'Offering copyrighted music from your computer is an act of copyright infringement. When you offer copyrighted music to others from your computer, you are not anonymous.' Users will also be warned that they could face prosecution and that their activities will impair and eventually destroy music in Hong Kong. Mr Fung said retail sales of records in Hong Kong were $219 million last year, compared with $913 million in 2000 when peer-to-peer file-sharing was introduced - an even bigger drop than the one caused by pirated CDs in the 1990s. The technology allows participants to share files in a way that speeds up the time it takes to download a file - anything from a song to a movie. The more people who want a particular file, the quicker it downloads. The group praised the support of internet services providers which enabled it to step up its measures against pirate activities. Mr Fung added that the group would trace users of the services as well as those offering them. The message is clear and simple: that music fans should respect music copyright by refusing to download or to share illegal files, Mr Fung said. On the bright side, Timothy Tong Hin-ming, commissioner of customs and excise, said illegal file-sharing using the BitTorrent technology had declined 80 per cent since the first prosecution was launched earlier this year. Chan Nai-ming was arrested for allegedly uploading three movies to the web using the technology so other internet users could access them. He faces three counts of copyright infringement, and three charges of accessing a computer with criminal or dishonest intent. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and the trial is due to begin on October 12. Mr Tong said yesterday that he welcomed the music industry group's new initiatives in combating pirate behaviour.