Music and club brand the Ministry of Sound has had to give up chasing 25,000 alleged file sharers – because BT has deleted their details. The Ministry of Sound started legal action in July to force ISPs to hand over customer details. The nightclub claimed these customers were guilty of infringing its copyright and somewhat controversially its lawyers Gallant MacMillan sent letters demanding £350 for the claimed uploading. After the well publicised hacking of ACS:Law in a similar case involving alleged illegal downloading of porn, BT decided to challenge this process and went to court to demand Ministry provide more information to make sure BT customer privacy was not breached. Ministry claimed it was happy to do this despite extra costs incurred, and despite the fact that it wasn’t using ACS Law. But it said it later found out that BT had deleted 20,000 of the 25,000 records and Ministry have decided it wasn’t worth the cost of providing the extra information to pursue just 5,000 people, so it has put the pirate chase on ice. BT said it had stopped bulk disclosures from 29 September until proper safeguards for its customers are put in place.
BT said: “The Ministry of Sound’s decision is clearly a matter for them. It’s a shame though that, in this instance, our concerns over the current process will not be examined by the Court. However, it remains our intention to ensure our broadband customers are adequately protected so that rights holders can pursue their claims for copyright infringement without causing unnecessary worry to innocent people. BT therefore intends to write to ACS:Law and (MoS lawyers) Gallant MacMillan seeking their agreement to a revised approach to previously granted orders before disclosing any further customer details.” Adding in response to Ministry’s protestations about the deleted data “All such information is automatically deleted from our systems after 90 days in accordance with our data retention policy; the Ministry of Sound and its solicitors are well aware of this. 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. Our door remains open to Ministry of Sound and any other rights holder who wants to enforce their rights in a fair way through an established legal process.”
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/11/03/bt_stops_pirate_hunt/ and see Bounty Hunters Let Loose by Cassandra Williams in the November 2010 Music Law Updates