BT in spin over CD-Rom directory

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The Independent Online
British Telecom is threatening legal action to stop a CD-Rom of its telephone directories going on sale for pounds 19.95.

UK-INFO, which bears a picture of someone who looks like the Queen clutching a bundle of BT directories, has been produced by TopWare, a German company which scannednearly 16 million directory entries.

The disc, already on sale through the Internet, allows users to key in an address or phone number to find a name or find an address from a name. It is updated every six months.

BT says it is concerned about copyright and invasion of its customers' privacy. TopWare is ready to fight it in the courts. After a year's legal wrangling with German Telecom, TopWare won. The German disc become the biggest selling CD-Rom in the country and sold more than 2.5 million copies, for approximately pounds 20 each, in two years.

Carsten Borgmeier, TopWare's press agent who is promoting UK-INFO at the European Computer Trade Show at Olympia in London, said: "We're going to fight BT, fight anyone that tries to stop us selling it. We think copyright material might be a drama or something. This is just a list of data. It is not stolen or top secret."

BT fears that the nation will go ex-directory if UK-INFO goes on sale. "Customers will feel that their data is not safeguarded," a spokesman said.

BT produces a CD-Rom of its own costing pounds 199 and updated annually, but the version does not allow users to find names from numbers or addresses. An Oftel spokesman said a "reverse searching" was not allowed under its code of practice.