Austrian ISP’s must reveal personal details of file sharers

June 2005

Internet, Record Labels

A performing right society has won a suit filed with the Intermediate Court of Appeals in Vienna to have the identity of a file-sharing user revealed. The court upheld the original judge’s ruling which had been overturned at first appeal. The Council Chamber of the first-instance district criminal court of Vienna had overruled this ruling on December 01, 2004. The provider has been ordered to reveal the name and address of a customer charged with offering 3,864 music files as downloads for 21 minutes on October 07, 2004. The plaintiff, a performing right society, only knows the person’s dynamic IP address. The first instance district criminal court rejected the plaintiff’s demand to have the data revealed, arguing that a dynamic IP address is not master data (unlike names, addresses, etc.) and therefore is call data pursuant to Section 149a of the Austrian Code of Criminal Procedure and therefore only available if crimes with penalties exceeding one year in prison were committed intentionally The Appeals Court thus had to rule that an IP address was equivalent to a telephone number, thus making both master data. Master data is not subject to privacy of telecommunications, but rather only to data protection. Information about master data provided to criminal courts – for example the identity of a user’s identity based on a telephone number (which corresponds to an IP address) – can be provided if the suspect is to be investigated and prosecuted for a specific crime (eg under the Copyright Act); here, the restrictions in Section 149a do not apply”, the court said. In addition, the Court explained that “providers cannot be allowed to decide at their discretion whether to issue static or dynamic IP addresses in order to avoid their duty to disclose information.

for the US view on music piracy, see:,1413,200~20950~2839478,00.html

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