ISPs must take responsibility for stopping illegal file-sharing

ISPs must take responsibility for stopping illegal file-sharing on its network. So says a court in Belgium in a ruling that sets an important precedent in the fight against piracy.

The ruling against the ISP Scarlet (formerly Tiscali) was aimed mostly at P2P networks. The judge said that ISPs have the technical means at their disposal to either block or filter copyright-infringing material on P2P networks.

IFPI Chairman and CEO John Kennedy said: “This is an extremely significant ruling which bears out exactly what we have been saying for the last two years – that the internet’s gatekeepers, the ISPs, have a responsibility to help control copyright-infringing traffic on their networks. 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 mould for government policy and for courts in other countries in Europe and around the world.”

The ruling may be bad news for YouTube, faced as it is with several copyright-infringement lawsuits. This case says that ISPs definitely have some responsibility or obligation for the content that is displayed across their networks. YouTube has argued that it can’t know everything on its site, that it removes content once a DMCA takedown notice is served. However if a notice is never served, then infringing material stays. The Belgian ruling says that, in its purview, YouTube does bear responsibilty for the content it serves.

One thought on “ISPs must take responsibility for stopping illegal file-sharing

  1. Jonathan Bailey

    Fortunately, for the likes of YouTube, this lawsuit only affects ISPs located in Belgium. Since YouTube is in the U.S., it won’t be affected by this decision.

    Still, if it sparks an international trend of greater ISP responsibility, there could be some interesting rulings on the way…

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