EU court rules telecom companies don't have to hand over details of suspected illegal file sharers

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Possible good news for those who operate file sharing networks for distributing music and other media via the likes of KaZaA and other software. A top European Union court has ruled, in the civil case of Spanish music and audiovisual association Promusicae versus Telefonica, that telecoms companies are not required to hand over the personal data of their customers.

Promusicae wanted Telefonica to hand over the names and addresses of those it suspected of running illegal file sharing sites. However, advocate general Juliane Kokott said that it didn’t break the law for European countries to exclude communication of personal data in civil cases.

However, it’s not all good news for file sharers – the Belgian Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers (SABAM) recently won a case against the ISP Scarlet meaning that it has six months to implement automated filtering and blocking software to identify P2P material.

So, while file sharers may be safe from music companies finding out who they are, at least for the moment, ISPs may end up having to block any material that looks like P2P data.

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Andy Merrett