EasyInternetCafe faces gag in CD-burning row

The British music industry mobilises its lawyers as the argument over copyright infringement at EasyInternetCafe's stores rumbles on

EasyInternetCafe has been threatened this week with a gagging order as the ongoing piracy dispute between the company and the British music industry remains unresolved.

Lawyers acting on behalf of the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) contacted EasyInternetCafe on Tuesday, warning that they plan to apply for an injunction that would stop EasyInternetCafe talking to the press about the row.

The BPI is concerned that its attempts to reach a settlement with EasyInternetCafe have been hampered by press coverage of the issue.

EasyInternetCafe, though, intends to fight the move, and is already making plans for its staff to don orange boiler suits and protest outside court. "We have no intention of being gagged," an EasyInternetCafe spokesman told ZDNet UK News.

As ZDNet UK reported in August, EasyInternetCafe fell foul of the BPI by letting its customers download copyright material and burn it onto CDs in its stores. EasyInternetCafe claims it cooperated with the BPI when it learned of this, but was shocked when the BPI demanded a fine of £1m to cover copyright infringement.

EasyInternetCafe refused to pay £1m, and balked at a second offer of £100,000, but in early August it offered £50,000 to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry -- a sister body of the BPI -- for a global settlement.

According to EasyInternetCafe, it still hasn't received a formal response to this offer.

"We hadn't heard anything, until two days ago when a letter arrived from lawyers 'acting on behalf of Sony Music Entertainment UK and others' -- basically, the IFPI -- saying they're applying for an injunction to gag us," the EasyInternetCafe spokesman said on Thursday.

This move, EasyInternetCafe claims, is an U-turn for the music industry.

"This is the same people who said 'you'll get bad PR if people know that your stores were used for this'," said the EasyInternetCafe spokesman. "It looks like they're embarrassed by the case, and are trying to hush it up."

"You can't go round asking for £1m, or £100,000, and expect it to be done in a quiet manner," he added.

Should the injunction come to court, EasyInternetCafe is planning to mobilise its staff to stand outside the court wearing bright orange boiler suits. "Orange is our corporate colour," explained the EasyInternetCafe spokesman.

The BPI has confirmed that it has taken legal action against EasyInternetCafe, after facts regarding the settlement process appeared in the media.

"We were forced this week to make an application to the courts to stop EasyGroup (owner of EasyInternetCafe) from divulging figures and facts about the case," a BPI spokeswoman told ZDNet UK News.

"EasyGroup have said they want to continue the settlement process, but we can't do that if everything we say is going to be leaked to the press," she added.

The BPI isn't prepared to give any details of the settlement discussions, which it insists must remain confidential, but it claims to be hopeful of a positive outcome to the issue.

"We're confident we have a strong case. EasyGroup are clearly in the wrong, and we are confident of getting a good financial settlement for our members," the BPI spokeswoman said.

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