Dutch court rules that privacy overrides copyright investigation

August 2005

Record Labels, Music Publishers, Film and Television, Internet

The Dutch rights organisation BREIN has lost a lawsuit filed on behalf 52 media and entertainment companies. BREIN had acquired unique computer identification numbers, so-called IP addresses, of suspected file swappers and had requested the personal details behind these IP addresses from five large internet service providers (UPC, Essent, Tiscali, Wanadoo and KPN). The ISP’s had refused to hand over details arguing only a criminal court could request this. The court ruled that BREIN made a crucial mistake in collecting evidence against the individuals as it could have accessed private data as well as details of copyright infringements when looking at user’s Kazaa activities and this was not permissible under Holland’s privacy laws (which the court suggested were far more robust than US privacy laws). The case in a civil court in the city of Utrecht led to a ruling that whilst the judge was allowed to order the ISPs to submit the personal data, the plaintiffs had not met the necessary conditions to warrant such an order. However, whilst a court in Sweden has also protected internet users privacy (see Law Updates July 2005) it should be noted that an Irish Court, the High Court in Dublin, came to a different conclusion on matters of privacy ordering ISP’s to hand over details of the identities of 17 suspected file swappers.

See: http://news.softpedia.com/news/Dutch-Judge-Rules-Against-Privacy-Violation-4668.shtml andhttp://news.com.com/Dutch+judge+protects+privacy+of+file+swappers/2100-1030_3-5785337.html and http://p2pnet.net/story/5581

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