EU rules privacy more important than piracy


The European Union Court of Justice today ruled that they see citizen’s privacy rights as a higher priority than copyright laws. The case came to the court when Sabam, a Belgian copyright advocacy group, challenged that internet service providers (ISPs) should be responsible for blocking illegal internet traffic from their users, claiming that use of peer to peer software was responsible for piracy.

Belgian ISP Belgacom appealed the case to the Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court, on the grounds that detecting such traffic would be a violation of users’ privacy.

Bloomberg Businessweek has coverage of the case:

Belgacom, the largest telephone company in Belgium, won antitrust approval to acquire Scarlet in 2008. Scarlet is appealing a June 2007 Belgian court order to “make it impossible” for users to violate copyright laws, saying it would entail breaching customers’ privacy rights.

As the United States pursues anti-piracy laws such as the Stop Online Piracy Act and now the Protect IP Act, the european case may provide some guidance — and some anecdotal ammunition — for advocates against the legislation.

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