[governance] Belgian Court Ruling - True Cost to Who?

yehudakatz at mailinator.com yehudakatz at mailinator.com
Sun Jul 8 16:22:29 EDT 2007

Belgian ISP Held Responsible for File Sharing
Belgian court has ruled that an ISP is responsible for blocking illegal file
sharing on its network, could set precedent.

James Niccolai, IDG News Service
Thursday, July 05, 2007 5:00 AM PDT
Re: http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,134159-c,internetlegalissues/article.html

A court has ruled that the Belgian ISP Scarlet Extended SA is responsible for
blocking illegal file-sharing on its network, setting a precedent that could
affect other ISPs in Europe, according to a recording industry group.

Belgium's Court of First Instance has given the Internet service provider six
months to install technology to prevent its customers from sharing pirated
music and video files, the International Federation of the Phonographic
Industry said. If it fails to do so it will be fined ,2,500 (US$3,400) per day,
according to the ruling, published June 29.

The music industry has long sought to hold ISPs responsible for illegal
file-sharing on their networks, although in the U.S. it has been largely
unsuccessful. ISPs have argued that they provide a service like a post office
or a telephone company, and shouldn't be required to police the traffic on
their networks.

The Brussels ruling is based on Belgium's interpretation of the European
Union's Information Society Directive, often called the E.U. copyright
directive, and as such could set a precedent for other cases in Europe, the
IFPI said.

"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
mold for government policy and for courts in other countries in Europe and
around the world," IFPI Chairman and CEO John Kennedy said in a statement. 

The case stems from a lawsuit filed against the ISP Tiscali SA by the Belgian
Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers, known as SABAM. Tiscali later
sold its Belgian operation to Scarlet Belgie Holding NV, and the former Tiscali
business became Scarlet Extended.

The ruling appears to apply only to the Belgian service and not to Tiscali.
Neither company could immediately be reached for comment, and it was unclear if
Scarlet planned to appeal the ruling.

SABAM said it won a preliminary judgment in the case 2004, and the Belgian
court assigned an expert to study the technical options ISPs can use to prevent
illegal file sharing. It came up with seven, including a system from Audible
Magic that creates a "digital fingerprint" for each copyright work and blocks
their delivery over networks.

My question is:

At what point (when & where) is the differance between 'Carrier' and 'ISP',
will AT&T, BT, and all ... receive proportional judgments under this ruling, or
are they effectivly exempt.

If left exempt, then we could quite possibly see the end of the small ISP, and
only be left with AT&T/Yahoo, COMCAST, etc. 
Because the Small ISP can not afford the burden of defensive litigation cost,
In other words they will be buried. Its a small-overhead cost for AT&T BT etc..



... ISPs once balked at the implications of policing their networks, and sought
to extend the "common carrier" defence developed for the first circuit-switched
telephone networks. However, the argument was not recognized outside the United
States, and could not be made when the carrier knew of the offence. In 2005 the
FCC formally excused phone and cable companies from the common carrier

In addition, ISPs argued that the obligations were onerous and intrusive.
Modern techniques such as deep packet inspection, and content filtering also
make such claims hard to justify. Audio filtering can identify a song
accurately from a small number of short samples, for example. In other words,
identifying potentially infringing material is now easy and cheap.

Seeing the tide turning, a fortnight ago AT&T agreed to start monitoring its
network for copyright infringement.

The group that represents the international recording business, the IPFI, has
hailed the decision as a landmark. ...

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