Commentary

ISP Cannot Be Forced To Block Copyright Infringing Files

An advisor to the European Court of Justice has said that an ISP involved in a long-running file-sharing dispute cannot be forced to block or filter copyright-infringing files at the behest of copyright holders. Such an action would amount to an invasion of customers’ privacy and violate rights guaranteed under EU law.

The dispute between music rights group SABAM and Internet provider Scarlet has been long-running and was initiated when the ISP was called Tiscali and under different ownership.

SABAM hoped that through aggressive legal action, funded by its paymasters in the international music industry, that it could force Scarlet to install filtering devices in its network to monitor customer communications and stop them if they attempt to send or receive copyrighted music.

In 2007 they succeeded, with the Brussels Court ruling that Scarlet should install the industry-approved Audible Magic music fingerprinting system. The ISP objected, saying that by spying on its customers it would be acting illegally. Adding insult to injury, Audible Magic did not perform meaning that Scarlet could not comply with the court order to stop all infringement with the tools it had been given. Continue reading…

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