Top EU Court Says Online Platforms Must Only Provide Postal Addresses Of People Who Upload Unauthorized Copies Of Copyright Material

from the cue-industry-demands-for-new-local-laws dept

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is the EU’s top court. As such, it regularly hands down judgments that cause seismic shifts in the legal landscape of the region. Sometimes, though, it makes decisions that can seem a little out of touch. Here, for example, is the CJEU judgment on a case that involved unauthorized uploads of videos to YouTube (pdf):

the Court ruled that, where a film is uploaded onto an online video platform without the copyright holder’s consent, Directive 2004/48 [the 2004 EU Copyright Directive] does not oblige the judicial authorities to order the operator of the video platform to provide the email address, IP address or telephone number of the user who uploaded the film concerned. The directive, which provides for disclosure of the ‘addresses’ of persons who have infringed an intellectual property right, covers only the postal address.

What jumps out here is that platforms like YouTube only need to hand out the postal address of someone who uploaded unauthorized material. That seems rather 1990s, but the reasoning is quite straightforward and not at all backward-looking. When the EU copyright law was drawn up in 2003, the CJEU explains, there was no suggestion that “addresses” actually meant an email address, IP address or telephone number. Nor was it the case that EU politicians had never heard of these new-fangled things, and left them out through ignorance. People knew about IP addresses, yet chose not to mention them in the EU law, so the court ruled that “address” should only have its usual meaning, that is, postal address.

That’s welcome news for people who upload material to online platforms, since they may not provide their postal addresses — or if they do, they might provide incorrect ones. In these cases, without IP addresses or emails it will be hard for the copyright industry to do much against those making unauthorized uploads in the EU. However, that’s not the end of the story. The full CJEU judgment concludes by noting:

although it follows from the foregoing considerations that the Member States are not obliged, under Article 8(2)(a) of Directive 2004/48, to provide for the possibility for the competent judicial authorities to order disclosure of the email address, telephone number or IP address of the persons referred to in that provision in proceedings concerning an infringement of an intellectual property right, the fact remains that the Member States have such an option. As is clear from the wording of Article 8(3)(a) of that directive, the EU legislature expressly provided for the possibility for the Member States to grant holders of intellectual property rights the right to receive fuller information, provided, however, that a fair balance is struck between the various fundamental rights involved and compliance with the other general principles of EU law, such as the principle of proportionality

In other words, the governments of the EU’s Member States have the option of introducing local legislation that would give copyright companies the right to receive things like email and IP addresses. There is no appeal against CJEU’s decision, which will now be used by the German courts to make a final judgment on the original case that was referred to the highest court for guidance. As a result, we can doubtless expect frenzied lobbying from the copyright world demanding that all the EU’s national governments bring in legislation granting extra rights in order to prevent the end of civilization as we know it, etc. etc.

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Comments on “Top EU Court Says Online Platforms Must Only Provide Postal Addresses Of People Who Upload Unauthorized Copies Of Copyright Material”

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Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Any sane (a loosely defined state) American would register their address @ 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC 20500 and their phone number as something like 1-202-456-1414 or maybe 1-800-555-1212. I have some inkling that EU persons would have their own, similar, addresses and phone numbers that would be appropriate, though they might want to use a country other than their own, just for grins and giggles. What’s the address and phone number of the MPAA anyway?

The question remains, was the original wording of the directive faulty (likely but not just for this reason) or is this court delivering a snide response to the whole damned thing?

Jeroen Hellingman (profile) says:

A bit of a technicality, that a good thing courts didn’t expand the meaning of words this time. Will probably be "fixed" fairly quickly at the national level.

For Google and likes, they will probably run into the GDPR if they start providing this information without a law saying they must: they will lack the legitimacy of sharing that information in that case.

ECA (profile) says:

Thats interesting..

HOW many sites require your address??
A Phone number yea, an address?

Your ISP has it, and seems to like selling our info, but Most of the sites out there Now, only ask a phone number they can send a reset code to.
Facebook Asks Only for your REAL NAME.

But how easy it is to have 1 and soon the other. Got the phone number? Call it and track the connection, and you now have a good chance its their home.
As I suggested about Cisco and built in tracking on servers.. The Coding in your phone, you dont know much of what it can do. Or what the Gov. has ASKED to be built into it, as for emergency or ‘its for the Children’.
(love those conspiracies ideas)

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