EU Court says video sites can keep infringer IP addresses private

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The Court of Justice of the European Union (CURIA) has ruled that “When a film is unlawfully uploaded onto an online platform, such as YouTube, the rightholder may, under the directive on the enforcement of intellectual property rights, require the operator to provide only the postal address of the user concerned, but not his or her email, IP address or telephone number.”

Google and YouTube had declined to disclose the IP and email addresses of infringers to the rights-holder for distribution of two movies in Germany, who had uploaded the movie to those platforms.

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Google and YouTube claimed to be protecting the privacy of its users.  The court essentially agrees, in that it was trying to balance the needs of the rights-holder with the right of users to protect personal information.

Read the CURIA (European Union) news release about the ruling

Read the full documentation of the case, published by CURIA

Read the reporting by Reuters

Why it matters

While judicial authorities have the power to order the disclosure of information about the source of an infringement, such as an address, it seems counter to common sense in the year 2020 that an address must be physical. But that’s what a CURIA directive (2004/48) says.

Especially when a pirate can run from the law simply by changing IP addresses or moving to a different domain – which means that the physical location can be anywhere.

Even more ironic that such a technicality would make it more difficult for law enforcement to confirm a case of infringement and help justify action by law enforcement or the court system.

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