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Copyright vs Data Protection: Right to information about infringers limited to postal address

Actualizado: 20 oct 2021

The CJEU has delivered the decision Constantin Film Verleih v Google and YouTube deciding that a video platform operator is not obliged to provide the email address, IP address or telephone number of a user who has uploaded an unauthorised film. It is confirmed that the only address that it has to be disclosed according to the Enforcement Directive is the postal address, and not any manner of identification.

This case originates from a German referral concerning a dispute between a film distributor and YouTube, regarding the uploading of the movies Parker and Scary Movie 5 on its platform by a user. The distributor wanted YouTube to provide information to identify the infringer, such as their IP address, phone, and email.

The CJEU confirms that the term 'address' found on the Enforcement Directive refers only to the postal address, that is, the place where a person physically lives. Therefore, when that term is used without any further clarification, it does not refer to the email address, telephone number or IP address.  This decision aims at establishing a fair balance between the interests of copyright owners and the fundamental rights of users and their personal data.

The Court reminds that member states may legislate national to provide further information, provided this balance is also maintained.

While the commitment of the Court to privacy and fundamental rights is commendable, the outdated and unpractical approach towards what a real address is in the digital (and socially distanced) economy may raise some eyebrows. In any case, this decision confirms that seeking IP compliance and responsibility from individuals is an uphill battle and seeking it from platforms instead remains the most practical way forward.

You may find the CJEU press release for this decision, here.


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