EU Court Delivers Blow to Copyright Holders

European Union countries can refuse to disclose names of file sharers on the Internet in civil cases, the EU's top court said on Tuesday in a blow to copyright holders trying to fight digital piracy. The European Court of Justice ruled on a dispute between Spanish music rights holders association Promusicae and Spain's top telecoms operator Telefonica.

Telefonica argued that, under a national law based on EU rules, it only had to disclose the name of an Internet subscriber for criminal actions, not civil ones. "Community law does not require the member states, in order to ensure the effective protection of copyright, to lay down an obligation to disclose personal data in the context of civil proceedings," the court said in a statement.

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12 Comments

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What a weird headline.

This has nothing to do with copyright holders and everything to do with maintaining individual's right to privacy. The fact that their privacy is being honored here should not be news or a surprise; it should be expected.

Maybe they got the idea from Canada

European Union countries can refuse to disclose names of file sharers on the Internet in civil cases, the EU's top court said on Tuesday in a blow to copyright holders trying to fight digital piracy.

Yes, they should definitely be able to. Disclosing personal information should require a police warrant, not some company wanting to act like the law on their own. They may not even threat the right user, as has been shown in the past. Much less may they have enough evidence. Nah. Take the situation with the police if you really need to, hopefully they'll act like a filter for the most ridiculous and unwarranted claims. I just hate those "scary letters" *AA has been pumping out, sometimes seemingly without a lick of investigative efforts behind them. "Oops, the lady we sued were already dead?"

I would sure not want to have my ISP leave out my personal details to any random organization who give them some hand waving evidence, pointing to some router on the Internet or whatever.

Agreed, If they can prove that someone’s sharing thousands of illegal files then the police should intervene, but if it's a couple of files from a random pick of IP addresses the police should tell them they've got better things to do.

I am against piracy, and feel that it should be fought to be reduced or eliminated. However, distinguishing between criminal and civil offenses seems to make sense (and not put ISPs in such a spot, along with the extra expenses of being a "warez watchdog" ).

Good ruling, IMO.

Copyright holders do have the right to protect their own IP, but unfortunately slime organizations like the MPAA and RIAA are trying to coerce governments into making simple copyright infringement a criminal act. They are also doing a good job of brainwashing the public into believing that if you use a P2P network, you are a criminal.

(evo_spook said @ #2.1)
I've usually found the rulings from EU courts very sensible and rulings from UK/USA less so...

Exactly. An example is how the EU had the balls to stand up against MS anti-trust tactics where the USDOJ tucked its tail between its legs and ran.

This is a great move for EU citizens in an age where record industry bodies are applying huge pressure through civil action against people that can't afford to protest it. However, it doesn't address the issue of how to protect copyright for the owners of a protected work.