Have Belgium’s biggest ISPs been sued for providing Internet access?

Three of the largest Belgian internet service providers (ISPs) have not been paying “copyright levies” according to authors’ association Sabam, whilst still offering access to protected materials.

Being taken to court are the ISPs Belgacom, Telenet and Voo. The call (if passed in favour) will mean each of the three companies paying 3.4% of their turnover towards copyright fees.

Sabam, the suing association, is an institution set-up to protect authors, composers, and publishers from having their work freely share online without being paid due royalties.

In the report (in Belgian), Sabam mentions revenue generated from physical media has “declined 54 percent”, whilst revenue generated from services such as Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube has not compensated the “huge loss”.

The institution is calling for ISPs to have more responsibility for data transferred across their networks instead of “hiding behind their status as intermediary.”

Although none of the networks were able to issue a statement; worryingly for Sabam, the ISPA (Internet Service Providers Association) mentioned in a news release to Belgian media that “providers do not choose what information passes through their networks and are therefore not liable for the contents” which may have some influence on the final court ruling.

The court case itself was filed at the Brussels court of first instance in April, although the decision is not expected until 2014.

Do you think Sabam has a good case? Should ISPs in general take more responsibility for data transferred on their networks?

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