BT wins adjournment in anti-piracy hearing

BT has been granted an adjournment to the court order brought by law firm Gallant Macmillan in the High Court.

The London solicitors was acting on behalf of its client the Ministry of Sound, and had gone to court to force BT to hand over the personal details of hundreds of PlusNet customers suspected of illegally downloading and sharing music.

Chief master Winegarten yesterday granted the adjournment until January 2011.

According to The Guardian, BT said it would challenge such court orders until the rights holder and law firm could prove that accusations of illegal file sharing had “some basis”.

The hearing followed BT admitting last month that it sent customers’ personal details in unencrypted emails to law firm ACS:Law. This information was then leaked on the web after the ACS:Law website was hacked.

At the time, BT admitted there were “deep concerns regarding the integrity of the process being used by rights holders to obtain customer data from ISPs for pursuing alleged copyright infringements”.

It added that it wanted to make sure its customers would not be treated unfairly should any details be given out, and was “urgently exploring how this can be assured, including through the assistance of the courts”.

In a statement, BT said: “The incident involving the ACS:Law data leak has further damaged people’s confidence in the current process.

“We’re pleased that the court has agreed to an adjournment so that our concerns can be examined by the court, this will then act as a precedent/test case for the future.

“We want to ensure broadband subscribers are adequately protected so that rights holders can pursue their claims for copyright infringement without causing unnecessary worry to innocent people. We have not simply consented to these orders in the past, we have asked for stricter terms as public concern has risen.

“The data leak with ACS:Law prompted us to take further action today.

“We are also seeking a moratorium on outstanding applications and orders.”

Gallant Macmillan said last week that the controversy over ACS:Law would not stop it from pursuing legal claims against those accused of file sharing.

Not long after, the company’s site was taken offline as it became apparent it was about to become the next target of a DDoS attack. Then the Ministry of Sound record label’s website was taken offline in a DDoS attack.

Both sites were still unavailable today.