Belgium ISP ordered by the court to filter illicit content

By EDRi · July 18, 2007

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

In an unprecedented decision, the Court of First Instance in Bruxelles has
order Scarlet, a Belgium ISP, to implement technical measures in order to
prohibit its users to illegally download music files.

The decision comes after a complaint initiated in 2004 by Sabam (Belgian
Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers) against the Belgium ISP
Tiscali, now renamed as Scarlet. A first intermediary ruling of 26 November
2004 accepted the possibility for an ISP to disconnect customers if they
violate copyrights, and block the access for all customers to websites
offering file-sharing programs. But further technical clarifications were
needed, so an expert was appointed in order to present its opinions.

In a report published on 3 January 2007, the expert presented 11 solutions
that could be applied in order to block or filter the file-sharing, and
seven of them could be applied by Scarlet.

The court has decided that Scarlet need now to implement one or more
technical measures in order to stop the copyright infringement, by making it
impossible for its subscribers to send or receive music files from the
repertoire of Sabam via p2p software. Scarlet also needs to inform Sabam on
the technical measures that will be implemented. The decision needs to be
implemented in 6 months, or the ISP must pay 2 500 euros/day as damages
for non-compliance.

The decision did not consider the issues regarding privacy, freedom of
expression or the right to the secrecy of the correspondence. Scarlet also
claimed that the duty imposed by the court is a general obligation to
monitor the network, that is contrary to the EU E-commerce Directive. But
the court stated that the decision was not an obligation to monitor the
network and that the solutions identified by the expert were just technical
measures allowong blocking or filtering certain information sent through the
Scarlet’s network.

The decision was praised by the International Federation of the Phonographic
Industry (IFPI) that hoped the ruling would be replicated
across Europe. “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,” explained IFPI chief executive John Kennedy.

UK’s Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) made public its
opposition to such a move to make ISPs “play judge and jury” whenever
customers are suspected of engaging in copyright infringement.

An ISPA representative explained “What we wouldn’t want is corporate
censorship. Any kind of censorship of the Internet has to be at the
government level. ISPs are not law enforcement. We understand that ISPs play
a part in combating instances of illegal activity on the Internet, which is
why we engage with rights holders and work with government authorities on
that basis, but we wouldn’t say we’re the gatekeepers of the Internet.”

Sabam moved quickly and asked Belgium’s dominant telecom group Belgacom to
commit to blocking or filtering illegal music file sharing, giving it eight
days to react. Belgacom spokesman Haroun Fenaux replied: “As access provider
our role is simply to transport information.”

Scarlet announced that they were appealing the decision of the Court of
First Instance in Bruxelles.

P2P: ISPs summoned to turn off the tap! (only in Frech, 5.07.2007)

TPI Bruxelles – SABAM vs SA Scarlet (formerly Tiscali) (only in French,

Belgium : A court imposes an ISP measures to prevent piracy (only in French,

ISP told to block file-sharing in landmark case (6.07.2007)

Belgacom urged to block illegal music file sharing (14.07.2007)

EDRI-gram:Provider Tiscali in Belgium forced to disconnect P2P-users