Wednesday, January 30, 2008

EU Court Protects Privacy Against Record Companies

According to this story from, the top court in the European Union has ruled that telecommunications companies cannot be forced to divulge names and addresses of individuals suspected of distributing copyrighted movies and music over peer to peer networks. The court did state that individual countries could draft national laws to change that, but cautioned that any such laws would have to take into account individual privacy, as both property and privacy are "fundamental rights."

Given that this is taking place in Europe, it won't have much effect on privacy rights in this country, or on the music industry's continuing crusade against peer to peer networks in the U.S. However, it can provide a useful point of comparison between the treatment of privacy in the E.U., and the treatment of privacy in the U.S. For example, in the U.S., privacy protections aren't balanced against the interests of copyright holders - they're used as a pretext to advance the interests of copyright holders when it isn't politically expedient to advance the interests of copyright holders directly (see, e.g., here. As someone who generally supports greater individual privacy, I would like this to change, though I'm not optimistic that, in this country, it ever will.

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