Belgian Court Says ISPs Must Now Be Copyright Police

from the focus-on-the-beer-and-chocolate dept

There's long been a push from the entertainment industry to make ISPs responsible for policing copyright infringement on their networks. Despite the willingness of some ISPs -- such as AT&T to do this, it's really not a very good idea because it simply shouldn't be an ISP's job to determine what is and isn't infringing material. A recent story out of Australia illustrates what can happen when ISPs aren't protected by safe harbor laws: they do things like delete all their users' multimedia files from web hosting accounts, regardless of whether they're illegal or not. Now, a Belgian court has ruled that ISPs there must block illegal file-sharing on their networks, and has given one provider six months to implement some sort of filtering technology or face daily fines (never mind that that sort of thing never really works). The RIAA's international equivalent, the IFPI is, of course, delighted, and says that since the decision is based on an interpretation of EU copyright law, it could set a precedent across the continent. The group's chairman says it hopes it will do just that "around the world", though last we checked, Belgian court rulings don't apply in many countries, such as the US, which has safe harbor laws -- for the time being, anyway. On another note, is Belgium becoming to internet copyright law what Marshall, Texas is to patent lawsuits? First the ruling that Google can't link to Belgian newspapers, now this.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Brandon Watts, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 4:04pm

    More copyright headaches

    This may work for getting some of the bad guys, but what's going to happen is that the oversensitive methods that they use are going to begin to disrupt normal and innocent users from doing things that are completely legal. In the end, this is going to be bad for everyone.

    Brandon Watts
    Criteo Evangelist

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 4:08pm

    Well then. Belgium doesn't want Google in its borders, it wants ISPs to start regulating copyright... perhaps ISPs should just stop providing service in that country for a bit and see it things change?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    comicfan, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 5:03pm


    Not too soon, it will over ride our protection law in the name of "stealing" and we will have the same. One main problem with the whole thing is this, we have courts that have NO clue about technology, no idea what any of it is about and make rules on it. This decision is Belgium's to deal with, however, whenever something like this occurs you have to wonder how long before it hits home.

    This is a terrible decision, the ISPs cannot regulate what is illegal or not, nor should they have to. I suppose Belgium should tell auto makers they are responsible for how people drive, they can use cars to ride to a bank and rob it,drink and drive, etc... tell phone companies they have to regulate what people talk about.

    Maybe they should make the RIAA hand over all private records, "not albums" , transactions, bank accounts, make sure they are not ripping people off. Once again RIAA, you stole in the 70s and knew it, got caught, now you think everyone is a criminal except you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Shalkar, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 7:22pm

    Re: Yup

    Exactly! I couldn't have put it better myself.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Dushyant Patel, Jul 7th, 2007 @ 12:17am

    This is rubbish.

    Firstly, the assertion by the IFPI that a ruling in a lower Court in Belgium sets an EU wide precedent is ludicrous. Only the European Court of Justice can do that.

    Furthermore, each State has its own implementing measures for the EU Directive (it isn't a Regulation), this varies country by country. The Belgium decision would only set precedent for that countries Statute.

    Secondly, I know vicarious liability is excluded in the UK's implementation of the Copyright Directive by Sections 97a and 191(j)(a) which requires a service provider to have "actual knowledge of another person using their service to infringe copyright". So unless the ISP is specifically informed about infringement they won't have to do anything.

    The UK legislation also has common carrier provisions, I can't recall them right now but it's just copyright Nazi propaganda that this will speak for the entire EU. It probably won't even speak for the rest of Belgium unless it gets to Appellant. level.

    Also the ISP in Belgium is the damn government!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2007 @ 1:55am


    Secondly, I know vicarious liability is excluded in the UK's implementation of the Copyright Directive...
    Not for long now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Dushyant Patel, Jul 7th, 2007 @ 3:39am

    Recital 27 of the Copyright Directive "the mere provision of physical facilities for enabling or making a communication does not itself amount to communication within the meaning of the Directive".

    This makes it express that the Directive will not apply to ISP's. I hope this decision gets appealed to the ECJ because it is incorrect.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Col, Jul 7th, 2007 @ 6:25am

    Asking ISPs to ensure their customers don't access material which infringes copyright amounts to asking them to monitor the contents of all packets passing through their pipes, which in turn amounts to wiretapping everyone - something not even the governments are doing (yet). Well, maybe ECHELON, but they're not saying.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    sharingislegal, Jul 7th, 2007 @ 4:00pm

    No worries

    Nothing to worry about folks, there's a saying: What's done in Vegas stays in Vegas.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    comicfan, Jul 8th, 2007 @ 12:18am

    Re: No worries

    And precisely why it's only a saying, I have heard many Vegas stories. See, that's the bad part about trends, they go world wide now it seems, not just in one country. The RIAA has enough power to make the United States con Russia into stopping a web site, how scary is that? The RIAA didn't stay in Vegas on that one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2007 @ 4:25am

    Re: Re: No worries

    The Russians lost the cold war, the US won and to the victor go the spoils. Now it's time for the Russians to fall in line before we have to go nuke their asses from those new European missile bases. But the Russians aren't stupid, they know this and so they'll ultimately do as they're told.

    I wonder if any of those missiles will have "RIAA" stenciled on them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    Vincent Clement (profile), Jul 9th, 2007 @ 4:25am


    Anything good come out of Belgium these days? Didn't think so. Yet another country shooting itself in the foot by caving in to the old media oligopoly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    SailorRipley, Jul 9th, 2007 @ 5:57am


    Also the ISP in Belgium is the damn government!

    I know you're talking out of your ass on that one, which casts serious doubts on the rest of your post...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Dushyant Patel, Jul 20th, 2007 @ 6:14am

    Isn't Belgacom the Bg ISP? If so it's state owned.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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