A news item from Bloomberg, written by Stephanie Bodoni, reports that Scarlet Belgie Holding BV, one of Belgium's smallest internet service providers, is appealing against an order of the Brussels Court of First Instance on 29 June that it should block users from illegally sharing music and video files via its network. Scarlet objects that compliance with this order would force it to invade its users' privacy by searching through all their online activity. Calling referring to this ruling as "Big Brother on the Internet", Scarlet MD Gert Post adds,
"If we don't challenge it as of today, we leave the door open to permanent, and invisible and illegal, checks of personal data".Under the June ruling Scarlet has six months to install the necessary software filters.
The action against Scarlet was instigated by Belgian music rights organisation Sabam, which has warned Scarlet's larger competitors that they should also install filters or face the consequences. Scarlet, which has just 175,000 subscribers, split between Belgium and the Netherlands, says it is going into battle to defend the rights of internet users.
The IPKat will be watching the outcome carefully. This is one of those cases that you hope won't settle, so we can see the side of the Great Divide in favour of which the court decides. Merpel says, this issue has been recognised as a problem for years; we've had an EU Directive on copyright in the information society, a second Directive on the liability of service providers and a third Directive on the enforcement of IP rights - yet somehow there doesn't seem to be any clear consensus as to the outcome, with the result that litigation breaks out all over the place at national level. Wouldn't this have been a great subject for clear, harmonised guidance from the start?
Scarlet Pimpernel here
Scarlet O'Hara (not a typo) here
Scarlet Letter here
A Study in Scarlet here
Little Scarlet here (strongly recommended)