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Belgium court orders ISP to prevent illegal music downloading or face fines

[JURIST] The Brussels Court of First Instance has ruled that a Belgian internet service provider (ISP) must filter or block illegal peer-to-peer music downloading [JURIST news archive], giving Scarlet Extended Ltd [corporate website] six months to comply with its order or face €2,500 (US$3,425) in fines for every day of noncompliance. The ruling, made June 29 and originating from a suit brought on by Belgian Society of Authors, Composers, and Publishers (SABAM) [organization website], relies on the European Union's Information Society Directive [Directive 2001/29/EC text] and may set an advisory precedent for other courts in member states. International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) [official website] chairman John Kennedy welcomed the ruling [press release], saying that "the court has confirmed that the ISPs have both a legal responsibility and the technical means to tackle piracy."

The music industry's efforts to hold ISPs liable for illegal peer-to-peer file sharing have been largely unsuccessful in North America. In 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada rebuffed efforts by the music industry [JURIST report] to force ISPs to pay royalties for music downloaded illegally by users, ruling that the ISPs were only "intermediaries" and not bound by Canada's Copyright Act [text]. The EUobserver has more. International Data Group News Service has additional coverage.

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