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EU: sites, services can't be made to filter for piracy

updated 08:00 am EST, Thu February 16, 2012

EU says forced anti-piracy filters breach freedom

The EU Court of Justice decided Thursday that websites such as social networks couldn't be forced to use anti-piracy filters. The automatic blocks wouldn't safeguard personal information, and could artificially impede the personal freedom to send and receive data, according to the Brussels ruling. The ruling was helped by an earlier November decision that had made a similar decision protecting Internet providers.

Both cases had been instigated by Belgian music author copyright agency SABAM. It had sued social network Netlog NV over claims that simply letting users provide access to pirated music in their profiles amounted to tacit approval of piracy. Netlog NV had been threatened with having to pay a fine of 1,000 euros a day if SABAM had won its case.

The EU court argued that the requirement would breach privacy rights by forcing Netlog NV and others to scan and interpret data from users' profiles that was supposed to be personal. It would similarly put too much of the onus on the site hosts, which would need to implement "complicated, costly, permanent" filtering hardware and software at its own cost.

The ruling in tandem with the earlier ISP finding effectively bans requirements for automatic piracy filters of any kind in EU member states. The measure could prevent EU equivalents to proposed US laws like the currently frozen SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) by preserving the ability of Google, Facebook, and others to present the web as it is rather than censor results at the requests of music and movie studios.

France's Hadopi law wouldn't be affected by the ruling as it detects activity but triggers notices, not blocks. The scanning also doesn't require special work on the site or through Internet providers. [via AP]

by MacNN Staff



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