EU: User privacy rights trump intellectual property

Good and bad news for European net users. The European Union's high court said that under EU law ISPs don't have to provider user data to record labels and movie studios looking to track down illegal downloaders, the AP reports.

Good and bad news for European net users. The European Union's high court said that under EU law ISPs don't have to provider user data to record labels and movie studios looking to track down illegal downloaders, the AP reports.

It seems that privacy rights in the EU outstrip intellectual property rights.

EU law did not require governments to protect copyright by forcing companies to disclose personal data in civil legal actions, the Luxembourg-based court ruled.
The Spanish trade association for film and music producers, Promusicae, took Spain's national telecom company, Telefonica SA, to court when the phone company declined to turn over user records of people using Kazaa. Telefonica said Spanish law only allowed them to turn over user data related to criminal investigations and national security. The Spanish court turned to the European Union courts for guidance. But there was a silver lining for the copyright industry. The court said that it was up to individual countries to pass laws allowing such information to be turned over -- within limits.
[Governments] could draft national rules to change this but they will then have to balance the right to privacy against property rights and "cannot however affect the requirements of the protection of personal data," a court statement said.

The ruling "raises the question of the need to reconcile the requirements of the protection of different fundamental rights, namely the right to respect for private life on the one hand and the rights to protection of property and to an effective remedy on the other," the court said.

The music industry found enough there to spin the news their way. Said nternational Federation of the Phonographic Industry head John Kennedy:
"The judgment means that music rights owners can still take civil actions to enforce their rights, and it has sent out a clear signal that member states have to get the right balance between privacy and enforcement of intellectual property rights and that intellectual property rights can neither be ignored nor neglected."

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