Britain's easyInternetcafé chain guilty of copyright infringement, decides court

By Jon Newton 1/30/03

Britain's easyInternetcafé chain has been found guilty of copyright infringement in summary judgment by British High Court justice Peter Smith.

In a 2001 promotion, easyInternetcafé let customers DL music and copy it onto to CDs for £5 (about $8.20 US).

After pressure from trade organization the British Phonograph Industry (BPI), the service was suspended in September, 2001, and the BPI, closely allied to the RIAA, has been trying to nail chain proprietor Stelios Haji-Ioannou (who also owns an airline and a slew of other businesses) ever since.

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With cafes in London, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester, easyInternetcafé claimed it wasn't liable when customers downloaded copyright materials.

The High Court has not yet decided what monetary damages to impose on easyInternetcafé.

"The making for private and domestic use a recording of a broadcast or cable programme solely for the purpose of enabling its review or listening to at a more convenient time, dose [sic] not infringe any copyright in the broadcast or cable programme or in any work included in it," says Haji-Ioannou on his company web site, also stating:

""We will appeal the decision. I believe the judges interpretation of the law on our main defence point which is based on the following principle was inaccurate; under the time-shifting principle, consumers have the right to record music or video in order to consume it at a more convenient time - that is why they can use the VCR at home.

"On the same basis consumers were recording music in our internet cafés in order to consume it at a more convenient time. Obviously a judgement on that basis would have thrown the music industry in disarray. I believe it is a question for the House of Lords and not for a summary judgement. We will continue to fight the point on behalf of the consumer. The relevant law is Section 70 of the 1988 Copyright Design and Patents Act with the relevant section as follows."

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Jon Newton is the editor of and is a regular contributer to MP3 Newswire. Jon's site is devoted to the politics of digital music and his insights as well as those of his co-writers can be read there. We urge you to explore it.

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