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Belgian Anti-Piracy Ruling Has Implications For European ISPs

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

11 July 2007

The International Federation for the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has this week welcomed a court verdict delivered in Belgium which stated that an Internet Service Provider must take responsibility for stopping illegal file-sharing on its network.

The IFPI explained that:

"The ruling is the first of its kind in Europe and, since it implements EU legislation, it sets an important precedent in the fight against piracy internationally."

The presiding judge argued that ISPs have the technical means at their disposal to either block or filter copyright-infringing material on P2P networks, and gave the ISP Scarlet (formerly Tiscali) six months to implement such measures.

The judgement pointed in particular to the filtering technology developed by Audible Magic. It also referred to six other possible solutions to block the traffic of unlicensed music, which were highlighted in an experts’ report commissioned by the court.

According to the IFPI, this is the first case in Europe that has examined in detail the technologies that are available to block or filter copyright-infringing traffic on file-sharing networks.

The case in question was brought by the body representing authors and composers in Belgium, SABAM, against Tiscali.

IFPI Chairman and CEO John Kennedy announced that:

“This is an extremely significant ruling which bears out exactly what we have been saying for the last two years - that the internet’s gatekeepers, the ISPs, have a responsibility to help control copyright-infringing traffic on their networks. The court has confirmed that the ISPs have both a legal responsibility and the technical means to tackle piracy. This is a decision that we hope will set the mould for government policy and for courts in other countries in Europe and around the world."

“We congratulate SABAM on the successful outcome of this case. It has secured a judgement which should help protect music composers, artists, producers and other right holders from the enormous damage done by internet piracy.”

TAGS: Italy

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