A Belgian court has agreed with an Internet service provider that filtering content by scanning packets against a database of songs from the company 'Audible Magic' is impossible.
The case concerns the ISP Scarlet, which was being sued by the Belgian collecting society Sabam. Last year, the judge had ordered Scarlet, a small ISP, to implement filtering so that copyrighted music content would be identified and downloads prevented. Sabam had brought in the US company Audible Magic and claimed that its technology would work in this context, especially to deal with peer-to-peer downloading. Under the decision, which was handed down on 20 October, the judge has now agreed with Scarlet, that implementation of this kind of filtering is impossible. Scarlet has been released from an obligation to pay fees to Sabam. A further hearing has been scheduled for October next year.
The decision is significant in light of the political discussions within the EU on filtering, and the attempts to weaken provisions in the Telecoms Package to enable filtering ( I will be writing more on this soon.) It's interesting to note that Sabam was backed by IFPI, the recording industry association which is backing other law suits in Europe, including the Eircom case in Ireland and the case against the Pirate Bay in Italy.
Update: I've now had sight of the court decision. Audible Magic withdrew in April this year, because they could not make their technology work on Scarlet's network, due to an incompatibility in the technology. Scarlet has been asked to look at other filtering technologies. Incredibly, it received a quote of 900,000 Euro from Allot, for a deep packet inspection system that would 'control' peer-to-peer traffic for15,000 users. It it a little hard to understand why the court would insist that it pursues this line, given that these kind of costs must represent a significant percentage of its revenue.