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YouTube Wins Court Battle Against German Constantin Film In CJEU


Constantin Film Verleih GmbH had to put up with Google before the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Constantin had requested the release of user data from YouTube accounts that had published Constantin content.

It deals specifically with the two films Parker and Scary Movie 5, which were uploaded to YouTube in 2013 and 2014 in full length on the video platform. Constantin had asked Google to provide them with information about the account holders so that the rental company could have acted directly against the uploaders for copyright infringement. Among other things, it concerned the publication of the addresses. Google refused, however, and finally announced that the corresponding users had no postal addresses and that data such as email addresses, telephone numbers, and the IP addresses with which the accounts were registered and used would not be disclosed.

Now, after a protracted legal dispute, the European Court of Justice has issued a fundamental judgment. The CJEU sided with Google and made it clear in the judgment “that the usual meaning of the term address only covers the postal address, that is, the place of residence or whereabouts of a certain person”. From this, the judges concluded that the directive, which regulates the disclosure of data in the event of copyright infringement (right to information), does not refer to e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, or IP addresses. There is no indication in the guideline that this additional data is meant as an address.

Google cannot be committed

As a result, Internet services cannot be required by the policy to provide their users’ IP addresses, email addresses, or phone numbers. Constantin cannot, therefore, hold the responsible persons to account, as the account data remain unknown in these cases.

However, the CJEU has made it clear that the EU member states have the option of granting further information. However, with the proviso that an appropriate balance is guaranteed between the various fundamental rights concerned and the principle of proportionality is upheld.

Mark Goodman

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