A few years ago, entertainment industry lawyers went to some Dutch ISPs, demanding they hand over the names of people they believed were illegally sharing files. The Dutch ISPs refused, saying that to do so would be a violation of local privacy laws. The case eventually went to the Supreme Court, where the court agreed that it was a violation of privacy laws. With that in mind, it may be a bit surprising today to see a story about how a Dutch cable ISP is required to turn over subscriber names. The difference, apparently, is that the court says there are two conditions under which an ISP would be required to hand over the names, in spite of the privacy issue: (1) copyright holders can prove, "beyond reasonable doubt," that illegal file sharing took place and (2) they can prove that the person who is the registered account owner is the same person who was doing the file sharing. Both of these conditions are reasonable, and ones that we've brought up before in relation to RIAA lawsuits within the US -- where the industry never bothers to prove either point. What's still very unclear, however, is how the industry was able to prove both of these things. Just because a file is available via a file sharing network, it doesn't mean that it was actually distributed. Second, without either getting the person to admit they were at the computer or having photographic evidence, it's hard to see how they can prove who specifically did the file sharing based just on an IP address. Hopefully more details will be forthcoming.
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