[A2k] Online Copyright: EU Court of Justice Rules Out Private and Automatic Censorship

La Quadrature du Net jz at laquadrature.net
Thu Feb 16 02:18:03 PST 2012


La Quadrature du Net - For immediate release

Permanent link: https://www.laquadrature.net/en/online-copyright-eu-court-of-justice-rules-out-private-and-automatic-censorship

Online Copyright: EU Court of Justice Rules Out Private and Automatic Censorship

*** Paris, February 16th, 2012 – The European Court of Justice rendered another decision in defence of freedoms online. In the SABAM vs. Netlog case, it declares that forcing a hosting service to monitor and filter online content violates EU law. This is a crucial and timely ruling, just when initiatives such as ACTA and the revision of the IPRED directive aim to generalise private and automatic online censorship to enforce an outdated copyright regime. ***

In this important ruling, the EU Court of Justice follows a similar reasoning to that of the SABAM vs. Scarlet decision [1], and concludes that forcing a hosting service to screen all of its users' communications in order to block potentially copyright-infringing content violates EU law and fundamental rights, in particular freedom of expression and privacy. The Court referred in particular to the 2000 Online Services Directive (“eCommerce directive”) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights [2].

As several policy proposals such as ACTA or the upcoming IPRED revision aim at preventing the sharing of culture through a private party enforcement, this decision comes right on time. It clearly states that pushing private companies to monitor and police their networks and services to prevent potential copyright infringements is not compatible with the democratic values of the European Union.

“This ruling should sound as a call for EU policy makers to stop pushing for privatized censorship schemes under the guise of ‘cooperation’ between Internet actors and the entertainment industry. We now need to break away from repression, which is bound to undermine our freedoms online and an open Internet, and engage in a profound reform of our broken copyright regime. We must invent a copyright that, instead of censoring the Net, will foster access to culture and sharing while fairly funding creation.”, said Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for the advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.

The ECJ ruling the SABAM vs. Netlog case follows a lawsuit introduced in 2009: Belgian copyright collecting society SABAM sued the Belgium-based social networking site Netlog and demanded that Netlog, which qualifies as a hosting service, be forced to install a system to prevent copyright infringements carried on by its more than 2 million Belgian members. The Court of First Instance of Brussels referred the case to the European Court of Justice, asking whether such measure was compatible with EU law [3].

* References *

1. https://www.laquadrature.net/en/eu-court-of-justice-censorship-in-name-of-copyright-violates-fundamental-rights
2. See the ruling: http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/jcms/P_84732/
3. The full preliminary question was the following: “Is it in conformity with the EU E-Copyright Directive 2001/29, the EU IP Enforcement Directive 2004/48, the EU Data Protection Directive 95/46, the EU E-Commerce Directive 2000/31, the EU Privacy in Electronic Communications Directive 2002/58 and Articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights that EU Member States allow a national court to issue a cease-and-desist order against internet intermediaries the services of which are used by third parties to commit copyright infringement, so that a hosting provider is obliged to install a system for its entire clientèle, which filters all incoming and saved information in order to identify electronic data which contain copyright-protected work and in order to block the further exchange of these files?”

** About la Quadrature du Net **

La Quadrature du Net is an advocacy group that defends the rights and freedoms of citizens on the Internet. More specifically, it advocates for the adaptation of French and European legislations to respect the founding principles of the Internet, most notably the free circulation of knowledge. 

In addition to its advocacy work, the group also aims to foster a better understanding of legislative processes among citizens. Through specific and pertinent information and tools, La Quadrature du Net hopes to encourage citizens' participation in the public debate on rights and freedoms in the digital age.

La Quadrature du Net is supported by French, European and international NGOs including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Open Society Institute and Privacy International.

List of supporting organisations: https://www.laquadrature.net/en/they-support-la-quadrature-du-net

** Press contact and press room **

Jérémie Zimmermann, jz at laquadrature.net, +33 (0)615 940 675


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