YouTube not obliged to inform on film pirates, the EU’s top court says

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YouTube is not required to hand over the Email or IP address of users who upload films illegally to its video platform, Europe’s top court has ruled, saying there must be a balance between protecting personal data and copyright.


  • European court decides that YouTube does not have to hand over the Email and telephone numbers of those that uploaded films illegally to it
  • Constantin Film took its case to court after YouTube and its parent companies refused to hand over the data
  • A decision the other way would have potentially opened a pandoras box of litigation across the media landscape in Europe

The case came before the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) after a German court sought guidance on what video platforms must do to combat film piracy in a case concerning German film distributor Constantin Film Verleih.

The company, which had distribution rights to the films Scary Movie 5 and Parker in Germany, had asked YouTube and Google to provide the Email addresses, telephone numbers and IP addresses of users who had uploaded those films illegally onto YouTube in 2013 and 2014.

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Constantin Film took its case to the German court after Alphabet subsidiaries Google and YouTube refused to supply the details.

The CJEU backed the US tech companies.

“When a film is unlawfully uploaded onto an online platform, such as YouTube, the rights holder may, under the directive on the enforcement of intellectual property rights, require the operator to provide only the postal address of the user concerned, but not his or her email, IP address or telephone number,” judges said.

They said EU countries could opt for more protection for intellectual property rights holders but there must be a fair and proportionate balance between various fundamental rights.

A YouTube spokeswoman said Google and YouTube were committed to protecting copyright and safeguarding privacy of their users and their data.

“Today’s CJEU decision provides the legal clarity on what information is appropriate to share with rights holders in case of a copyright claim,” she said in an emailed statement.

Via our content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Foo Yun Chee. Editing by Barbara Lewis.

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