British dance music publisher the Ministry of Sound has called off plans to pursue legal action against thousands of people accused of illegally distributing the firm’s music catalogue via file sharing services.
Legal representatives of the company had been pushing for a court order to release the details of ISP customers so that further action could be taken against them. However BT has apparently deleted 80 per cent of the data requested on the basis of laws that require the company to hold such data for 90 days before destroying it.
BT destroyed 20,000 of the 25,000 details requested by the Ministry of Sound legal team according to a BBC News report. Last month BT called for a suspension of court orders to release customer details following revelations that ACS Law leaked thousands of confidential details following lax security measures.
Ministry of Sound Lohan Presencer expressed his disappointment at the BT data deletion, saying it was "very disappointing that BT decided not to preserve the identities" of the customers the company alleges had illegally shared the firm’s music.
Existing regulations stipulate that the costs of providing such data may be charged to the copyright holders seeking the information. With less than 20 per cent of the data remaining and with BT costs of providing the data at “several hundred thousand pounds,” Prescencer said that it made “no economic sense” to continue the action.
BT had earlier successfully argued for a delay in providing the data, saying that the company needed to review the security systems relating to any customer data handed over. Following the ACS:Law revelations the company suspended compliance with all data request actions until an agreement could be reached on an appropriate level of safeguards for the data.
In a similar strategy to that undertaken by ACS:Law, the solicitors acting for the Ministry of Sound intend to use customer details to send letters to consumers requesting a signed undertaking that they will refrain from further infringing action on pain of further legal action, and requesting a flat rate payment to ‘settle’ the case.
No case against an individual has yet gone to court as the law firms hope the letters and relatively small cost of compensation is more attractive for the alleged infringers than the potentially massive costs of losing in court.