Europe‘s highest court, the EU Court of Justice, has ruled that online platforms like YouTube have no obligation to reveal the email addresses, IP addresses, or telephone numbers of alleged pirates following copyright claims, TorrentFreak reports.
Although the Copyright Directive — which aims to provide copyright holders with a mechanism to report the theft of their property — does have a clause which instructs legal authorities to disclose the personal information of pirates to rightsholders in order to settle disputes, the terms strictly apply to physical locations.
The ruling dates back to copyright claim by Constantin Film, an executive rightsholder for Scary Movie 5 and Parker in Germany. In 2013 and 2014, three YouTube users illegally uploaded the movies to the platform, where they generated thousands of views.
Seeking damages, the company filed a complaint with YouTube, demanding the personal details of the alleged infringers, including their email addresses, IP addresses, and telephone numbers. Google declined, and the two parties went to court.
During the legal dispute, Constantin Film cited a clause in the Copyright Directive which entitles rightsholders to access to the address of the violators. The Frankfurt District Court in German initially rejected this request, but later a higher court partially overruled the decision, asking YouTube to give out the email addresses, but not their IP addresses and phone numbers.
Neither party was satisfied with the ruling, so the case was referred to Germany’s Federal Court of Justice, which in turn sought further clarification from the EU Court of Justice.
“The Court ruled that, where a film is uploaded onto an online video platform without the copyright holder’s consent, [the 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,” a summary of the EU Court of Justice’s decision reads.
“The directive, which provides for disclosure of the ‘addresses’ of persons who have infringed an intellectual property right, covers only the postal address,” it continues.
With this information, the case is now headed back to Germany for a final ruling.