Friday

23rd Aug 2019

Focus

EU court rules social networks cannot police downloads

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has struck the latest blow in the debate over internet policing, ruling on Thursday (16 February) that online social network sites cannot be forced to construct measures to prevent users from downloading songs illegally.

The court, which is the highest judicial authority in the EU, stated that installing general filters would infringe on the freedom to conduct business and on data privacy.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

In a press statement accompanying its judgement, the court stated that forcing sites to police their network for illegal downloads “would not be respecting the prohibition to impose on that provider a general obligation to monitor nor the requirement that a fair balance be struck between the protection of copyright, on the one hand, and the freedom to conduct business, the right to protection of personal data and the freedom to receive or impart information.”

The case was brought before the ECJ by Sabam, the Belgian national music royalty collecting society, against social network site Netlog. In 2009, Sabam went to the Belgian Court of First Instance to demand that Netlog take action to prevent site-users from illegally downloading songs from its portfolio. It also insisted that Netlog pay a €1,000 fine for every day of delaying in compliance. Netlog legal submission argued that granting Sabam’s injunction would be imposing a general obligation to monitor on Netlog, which is prohibited by the e-commerce directive.

Like other social networking sites Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, Netlog allows users to create a profile through which they keep a diary, link with their friends and display photos or video clips, including copy-righted works.

In its ruling, the court duly cited the e-commerce directive, judging that implementing a filter system would require the host site to work as an active policeman of all files stored on its servers which could hold copyrighted works. Agreeing with Netlog’s submission, it stated that “general monitoring of the information stored on its servers” was “prohibited” by the e-commerce directive.

"Such an injunction would result in a serious infringement of Netlog's freedom to conduct its business since it would require Netlog to install a complicated, costly, permanent computer system at its own expense," the ECJ concluded.

The court added that the right to data privacy and to be able to receive or send information were part of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, with which all EU law must comply.

The ECJ ruling is the latest act in the long-running worldwide saga on the policing of online piracy. In the last fortnight there have been mounting protests against the controversial Acta treaty, an attempt to establish global rules for policing counterfeit trade online.

Although negotiations on Acta began in 2006, with 22 of the EU’s 27 Member States having signed up to it, five countries, including Germany and Poland, have halted the accession process following rising public pressure. Public protests swept across Europe’s streets last weekend in protest against the treaty.

Rights-holders and companies want internet service providers and technology companies to take action to prevent widespread copyright theft of illegally downloaded films and music.

Technology companies have argued that this would infringe on freedom of speech, internet freedom and be difficult to enforce, while internet campaigners fear that Acta would lead to invasive internet surveillance.

Watch Brussels based protest against the international intellectual property enforcement treaty, acta.

Hundreds of Belgians say No to Acta.
Let people download music by text message, says EP report

MEPs to focus on providing legal certainty in the online environment in Europe. The EU should allow people to pay for downloaded music by text message, according to a European Parliament report on the audiovisual sector.

No ban on second-hand software, says EU court

EU copyright law does not ban the re-sale of computer programme licences, according to a ruling on Wednesday by the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice.

Pressure mounts on EU cloud deal as deadline looms

The European Commission is under pressure to keep to its self-imposed September deadline to publish an EU cloud computing strategy, as new evidence revealed widespread public confusion about it.

News in Brief

  1. Ocean Viking to disembark in Malta after ordeal
  2. Germany joins France in world outcry on Brazil fires
  3. British people lose faith in Brexit deal
  4. Brexit hardliners want further changes to EU deal
  5. German manufacturers confirm fear of recession
  6. Belgian socialists and liberals scrap over EU post
  7. Fall in EU migration leading to UK skills shortages
  8. Switzerland makes post-Brexit flight preparations

Investigation

The EU committee's great 'per diem' charade

Around 30 members of European Economic Social Committee, who live and work primarily in Brussels or nearby, have claimed €1.47m in a 'daily subsistence' allowance from European taxpayers to cover accommodation, food and local transport for meetings held in Brussels.

EU ends silence on Hong Kong protests

The EU, in league with Canada, has spoken out on the Hong Kong protests after months of silence in what one expert called "a clear expression of support for the protesters".

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Spain heading for yet another general election
  2. EU to discuss Brazil beef ban over Amazon fires
  3. 'Our house is burning,' Macron says on Amazon fires
  4. What happens when trafficking survivors get home
  5. EU states and Russia clash on truth of WW2 pact
  6. EU considers new rules on facial recognition
  7. EU to pledge Africa security funds at G7 summit
  8. Letter from the EESC on per diem article

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us