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Euskaltel hails court decision as operators face up to data threat from production outfits

Spanish regional cable operator Euskaltel has expressed satisfaction with the legal outcome of a case brought by a film production company that broke European data protection rules by contacting one of the operator’s customers over allegedly downloading the movie She Fighter using peer-to-peer technology.

The Bilbao court dismissed the demand by She Fighter Ltd for recompense for the downloading of its movie over P2P against Euskaltel’s customer – one of the first such cases to come to court since the operator was forced to hand over customer data after a legal ruling. In this case the court ordered the movie company to pay costs.

Euskaltel said it would continue to denounce moves to force it to hand over customer IP addresses before the Agencia Española de Protección de Datos (AEPD). The latest case, which concerned the use of client data by the movie company, is the fourth such that Euskaltel has contested, following similar moves against its customers by Venice PI LLC, Reliance Entertainment Productions LLC and Wind River Productions LLC.

According to Euskaltel, customers have received emails demanding payment to avoid legal prosecution after downloading movies via P2P after it was forced to reveal their IP addresses. The operator argued successfully in each case that the production companies involved broke European data protection rules.

Euskatel said other operators were also likely to be affected by demands from production companies of this type that specialise in making money through making demands against consumers for allegedly consuming their content illegally. It said that other cases are pending before Madrid courts that have yet to rule on them, while the Euskaltel cases were brought before a Bilbao court.

Although Euskaltel says it has communicated to its clients to complain to the AEPD if it receives any communication demanding money, some customers have complained that it has done little to protect them. A group describing itself as the Colectivo de Afectados de Euskaltel por reclamaciones P2Pslammed the operator for failing to meet with it to hear concerns and ignoring communications sent to the operator by its legal representative. The group, which reportedly comprises about 500 affected customers, said that Euskaltel had shows systematic indifference to the issue.

ISPs in a number of countries have increasingly faced threats of ‘copyright trolling’ whereby production companies of obscure movies demand access through the courts to IP addresses of users who have used P2P protocols to download content.

Tags: AEPD, Euskaltel, P2P, Spain