Cybercafe chain EasyInternetcafe has lost its High Court battle with the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) over allegations that it offered a commercial service burning illegally downloaded music onto recordable CDs for customers.
The BPI maintained that EasyInternetcafe - founded by Stelios Haji-Ioannou and part of the Easy group - infringed copyright by offering this unlicensed service.
EasyInternetcafe consistently denied that it was responsible insisting that it had stopped customers from burning music in 2001.
EasyInternetcafe also claimed that the BPI had originally demanded £1m in damages, although it maintains this was later reduced to £100,000. EasyInternetcafe offered £20,000 to settle the matter.
In an acrimonious war of words EasyInternetcafe maintained that it had cooperated fully with the BPI over the matter, but that the BPI was "holding a gun to [its] head".
Today, judge Mr Justice Smith ruled that EasyInternetcafe is liable, dismissing its defences describing them as "speculations" and "fallacies". The court also rejected EasyInternetcafe's attempts to shift the blame onto its customers.
Damages against EasyInternetcafe have yet to be decided.
In a statement BPI chairman, Peter Jamieson said: "Illegal copying jeopardises the livelihoods of artists and songwriters as well as putting at risk the thousands of jobs directly and indirectly created by the recording and publishing of music.
"We are delighted that we have won this ruling which sets an important precedent in support of authorised licensing services."
In September last year EasyInternetcafe protested outside the High Court in London against the threat of a gagging order from the music industry.
The BPI applied for an injunction to stop EasyInternetcafe and Easy Group from publicly discussing the ongoing battle between the two parties.
No one from EasyInternetcafe was available for comment at the time of writing. ®