CyTRAP Labs’ legislative watch - European Court of Justice - C-275/06 judgment - P2P file-sharing stays private
|EU Law does not require ISP to hand over customers’ identity data in alleged filesharing case|
|The European Court of Justice ruled on a dispute between Promusicae, the Spanish association for music-rights holders, and Telefonica, Spain’s leading telecom.|
|Telefonica argued it did not have to disclose the name of an Internet subscriber for civil actions under a national law based on EU rules. The court accepted that argument.|
- legislative watch
Can a rightsholder force an ISP to hand over a subscriber’s identity in a civil copyright infringement lawsuit? In the U.S., the answer is a clear yes - as evidenced by the music industry’s more than 20,000 lawsuits against alleged individual filesharers. In Spain (and perhaps other EU countries) the answer is no, at least for now.
Record labels and film studios cannot demand that telecom companies hand over the names and addresses of people suspected of breaking European copyright rules by swapping illegal downloads, the EU’s top court - European Court of Justice - ruled Tuesday (2007-01-29).
But European Union nations could — if they want to — introduce rules to oblige companies to hand over personal data in similar cases, the European Court of Justice said.
The court upheld Spanish telecom company Telefonica SA’s right to refuse to hand over information that would identify who had used peer-to-peer file-sharing tool KaZaA to distribute copyrighted material owned by Promusicae, a Spanish nonprofit group of film and music producers.
EU law did not require governments to protect copyright by forcing companies to disclose personal data in civil legal actions.
Get the court’s judgment here:
CyTRAP Labs’ take on this issue
The ECJ’s ruling is welcome news for European citizens’ privacy rights. In the short term, it suggests that the recorded music industry may be less inclined to pursue high-volume individual copyright infringement lawsuits in Spain and could follow a different strategy in Europe than in the U.S.
The result of this ruling will be that copyright owners to put greater pressure on ISPs to:
- filter and monitor their networks for copyright infringing material,
- block protocols and terminate subscribers’ Internet connections,
- following the three-tier graduated response recently adopted in the French Ovieness proposal.
We are not sure but it may result in increasing lobbying efforts by the music industry on the Council of Ministers to adopt IPRED2, the criminal IPR sanctions directive. IPRED2 was passed in the European Parliament last April, to ensure that IPR infringements are treated as criminal offences for the purposes of more ‘effective’ copyright enforcement.
Not sure are experts regarding how the ECJ’s decision figures into the European Commission’s review of the eCommerce directive later this year.
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