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BT scores victories in fight to hold onto customer data

BT has given an update on its various court battles against rights holders that want ISPs to hand over the details of customers suspected of unlawful file-sharing.In a statement made on a BT forum on Tuesday, the company said it had successfully got MediaCAT — a company set up to sue people on behalf of pornographers, using the law firm ACS:Law — to delete the customer data it had extracted from BT via the courts.

BT has given an update on its various court battles against rights holders that want ISPs to hand over the details of customers suspected of unlawful file-sharing.

In a statement made on a BT forum on Tuesday, the company said it had successfully got MediaCAT — a company set up to sue people on behalf of pornographers, using the law firm ACS:Law — to delete the customer data it had extracted from BT via the courts. BT also said it had been granted a court order releasing it from the obligation to hand over customer details to the Ministry Of Sound record company.

Both the MediaCAT and Ministry Of Sound cases involved what is called a Norwich Pharmacal Order, which is a court order that forces the recipient to disclose certain information or documents to the applicant. The name dates back to a landmark case in which a pharmaceuticals firm forced customs officials to reveal who was importing unlicensed shipments of a chemical called furazolidone, so the firm could instigate litigation against the importers. The same type of order is now regularly used to get ISPs to reveal the names and other details of people suspected of unlawful file-sharing.

"As a business we must facilitate genuine rights holders who wish to enforce their copyright in a proportionate way," BT's statement read. "With that in mind we have been working on a new framework policy to deal with future applications, in a bid to protect our customers. We continue to develop that policy, particularly in light of the comments of [Judge Birss] in the recent MediaCAT cases."

BT's statement also indicated that another client of ACS:Law's, Digiprotect, is yet to delete the customer data it got from BT. "We have now taken the matter back to court and secured an order requiring Digiprotect either to issue proceedings or delete the data," the ISP said. "The time for issuing proceedings has now expired and the data should be deleted."