Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Belgian ISP wins reprieve in SABAM copyright case

From Out-law:

"A Belgian internet service provider that had been ordered by the courts to filter out copyright-infringing material from its network has won a court reprieve. It will not have to pay the €750,000 in fines that have built up over the past year.

Scarlet was told by a Belgian court last year that it must filter out copyright-infringing activity carried out by users of its network. It was ordered to pay a €2,500 fine for every day that it did not comply with the order.

That fine has now reached €750,000 but a Brussels court has accepted Scarlet's argument that the kind of filtering ordered by the courts is impossible, according to Belgian news outlet The Standard.

The court case was originally brought by Belgian authors' rights group SABAM, which claimed that the ISP bore some responsibility for the unlawful sharing of material over peer to peer (P2P) networks on the internet.

It won a ruling from the court that Scarlet did bear some responsibility, and that it should use technical filters to weed out infringing traffic on penalty of a daily fine."

The original decision to hold Scarlet liable had been warmly welcomed by the music industry and touted round the world as a model approach. So it is unlikely that this reversal will go down too well with the IFPI, BPI and RIAA and co. Scarlet are continuing to pursue a wider appeal against the original decision, saying that compliance with the provisions would involve the ISP in breaking Belgian wiretap laws.

Update: TJ McIntyre has reminded me of the Irish re-run of this case, EMI and co. v Eircom, coming to the High Court in Dublin very soon.

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