Social networks cannot be forced to filter content, EU court says

Social networks cannot be forced to filter content, EU court says

Summary: Rejoice, Europeans. Social networks cannot be forced into installing filtering systems to prevent the "unlawful use" of copyrighted works. Your privacy is safe for another day.

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The highest court on the continent, the European Court of Justice, ruled this morning that social networks cannot be compelled to install filters, monitoring or blocking systems to prevent the illegal trading of music, films, and other copyrighted material.

The court ruled that requiring such filters that covered all of the site's users would not sufficiently strike a balance between the protection of copyright, and the freedom to conduct business. And, of course, to upload pictures of your cat without fear of harm from copyright groups and the like.

This comes after a Belgian court referred the case to the ECJ. In 2009, Sabam, the Belgian royalty collecting group, filed a case against a social network to impose filtering systems to prevent file-sharing on the site.

The ECJ ruled that forcing a social network, or a similar business, to apply such filters would result in companies having to install "complicated, costly, permanent computer system at its own expense."

It's not the first time the ECJ has jumped in to prevent widespread changes to European networks.

In a similar case, a previous judgement ended a long running battle between Belgian web provider Scarlet and rights-holder group Sabam. The case began when Belgian rights management group took Scarlet to court over its customers’ use of unauthorised peer-to-peer sharing of copyrighted material.

Sabam asked the Belgian courts to fine the company €1,000 ($1,300) a day for "failing to prevent access to its portfolio," according to the Wall Street Journal.

A court in Brussels initially ordered Scarlet to filter its network to prevent further infringement on Sabam’s works. But the web provider, unhappy in the decision, appealed to the appeals court. The ECJ then took on the case, and it was eventually won, effectively ruling out SOPA-like laws in Europe.

Today's judgement can be found online. [PDF]

The judgment can be found online.

Image source: Gwenaël Piaser/Flickr.

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Topics: Networking, Collaboration, Social Enterprise

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4 comments
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  • It seems that.....

    Europeans are slowly becoming more free than those who live in the "land of the free".

    How can that possibly be?
    D.T.Long
    • RE: Social networks cannot be forced to filter content, EU court says

      @D.T.Long Slowly? I have a German friend who did a student exchange in the late 80s and he was surprised about how much he took for granted, which was not allowed in America.

      Germany is a stickler for rules, but those rules actually give us more freedom.
      wright_is
  • RE: Social networks cannot be forced to filter content, EU court says

    America has been slowly morhping into fascist like,and less free nation than ever before,and as been accelerating at top speed the last 12 years with the patriot act and other nefarious machinations under the cover of"Protecting and Keeping Us Safe'and for Our National securityuinat have seen us move towards a totalitarian state even faster.And I think the problem is America is trying o mimic a certain state that claims to be the only democracy in a certain area,but really is not,but is a religious state.
    So in effect,in order for keeping us safe,we must allow the government to turn America in a Gestapo like Police state,and it is sad that so many Americans are ready and willing to go along with this, and surrender all their rights,Privacy and Freedoms,for this grab for powerr and control by the 1 % Elites and the Miltary Industrial complex
    tbonex
  • RE: Social networks cannot be forced to filter content, EU court says

    America has been slowly morhping into fascist like,and less free nation than ever before,and has been accelerating at top speed the last 12 years with the patriot act and other nefarious machinations under the cover of"Protecting and Keeping Us Safe'and for Our National securityuinat have seen us move towards a totalitarian state even faster.and I think the problem is America is trying o mimic a certain state that claims to be the only democracy in a certain area,but really is not,but is a religious state.<br>So in effect,in order for keeping us safe,we must allow the government to turn America in a Gestapo like Police state,and it is sad that so many Americans are ready and willing to go along with this, and surrender all their rights,Privacy and Freedoms,for this grab for power and control by the 1 % Elites and the Miltary Industrial complex
    tbonex