The European Court of Justice clarifies the obligation to disclose the identity of copyright infringers in a civil lawsuit

7 May 2012

In the ruling handed down on April 19, 2012, the ECJ ruled on the preliminary issues raised in case C 461/10, including doubts regarding the interpretation of EU Directive 2006/24.

The EU high court acknowledged that the Member States are allowed to enact laws that allow victims of intellectual property infringements to request the identity and IP number of the infringer from the corresponding Internet Service Provider.

It goes on to specify that Directive 2006/24 must be interpreted in the sense that it does not preclude the application of national regulations based on Article 8 of Directive 2004/48 that, for the purposes of identifying the Internet subscriber or user, allows copyright holders to sue Internet Service Providers for the identity of the subscriber assigned a specific IP address that has allegedly been used in copyright infringement.

In order for the court to order the disclosure of the personal data in question, the ECJ established that the national laws must required clear evidence of copyright infringement of a work, the data requested must assist in the investigation of intellectual property right infringement, and the purpose of said order is more important that the damages which might be caused to the affected party or to other conflicting interests.

Finally, according to the court itself, the fact that the Member State in question had not yet adapted its laws to Directive 2006/24, despite the expiration of the period established to that end, was irrelevant.

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