BT Scuppers Ministry Of Sound’s Flagship Piracy Battle
The Ministry of Sound is speechless after BT destroys most of the evidence for its battle against illegal music downloading
The court tussle between record label Ministry of Sound and ISP British Telecom (BT) to reveal the details of alleged music pirates has ended.
The final straw was BT’s revelation that it had routinely deleted the records of 80 percent of the 250,000 names and addresses it had on file. Ministry of Sound decided to cut its losses because it would not be cost-effective to attempt to charge the remaining 5,000 people £350 each.
Data Retention Policy Erases The Issue
The request for information from BT has been a contentious issue for the ISP. It could not defy the courts but it claimed to have genuine concerns about the security of the data it was bound to hand over. This followed a security breach at ACS:Law, a company taking similar action against illegal downloaders.
In September, ISP customer details submitted to ACS:Law were stolen and published online, some of them were BT Plusnet users. Concerned with the privacy issues and the negative publicity that this generated, BT won an adjournment in the case so it could inspect the data security arrangements at Ministry of Sound.
In the meantime, BT’s 90-day retention of data policy came into effect and the data was erased.
“It is very disappointing that BT decided not to preserve the identities of the illegal uploaders,” said Lohan Presencer, CEO of Ministry of Sound. “Given that less than 20 percent of the names remain, and BT costs have soared from a few thousand pounds to several hundred thousand pounds, it makes no economic sense to continue with this application.”
BT has defended its position by arguing that Ministry of Sound knows about BT’s procedures regarding customer records.
“All such information is automatically deleted from our systems after 90 days in accordance with our data retention policy; Ministry of Sound and its solicitors are well aware of this,” BT said in a statement. “Upon request from Ministry of Sound we saved as much of the specific data sought as we reasonably could and any not preserved must have been too old.”
The decision to withdraw the court action has closed an acrimonious affair between the two parties and between Ministry of Sound and the downloading community. The issue flared up during the first visit to the courtrooms. To coincide with the opening of the case, hackers targeted a successful denial of service attack on Ministry of Sound’s website and that of its solicitors Gallant Macmillan.
Presencer has said that he will not let the issue die but will continue to pursue illegal downloaders through their ISPs.