While The US is proposing laws to make all sorts of Internet providers and companies to filter and block certain content in a ruling issued by the Court of Justice of the European Union today, the court ruled that “EU law precludes the imposition of an injunction by a national court which requires an internet service provider to install a filtering system with a view to preventing the illegal downloading of files”
“Such an injunction does not comply with the prohibition on imposing a general monitoring obligation on such a provider, or with the requirement to strike a fair balance between, on the one hand, the right to intellectual property, and, on the other, the freedom to conduct business, the right to protection of personal data and the freedom to receive or impart information”
“It is true that the protection of the right to intellectual property is enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. There is, however, nothing whatsoever in the wording of the Charter or in the Court’s case-law to suggest that that right is inviolable and must for that reason be absolutely protected.”
“In the present case, the injunction requiring the installation of a filtering system involves monitoring, in the interests of copyright holders, all electronic communications made through the network of the internet service provider concerned. That monitoring, moreover, is not limited in time. Such an injunction would thus result in a serious infringement of Scarlet’s freedom to conduct its business as it would require Scarlet to install a complicated, costly, permanent computer system at its own expense.”
“What is more, the effects of the injunction would not be limited to Scarlet, as the filtering system would also be liable to infringe the fundamental rights of its customers, namely their right to protection of their personal data and their right to receive or impart information, which are rights safeguarded by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.”
“”It is common ground, first, that the injunction would involve a systematic analysis of all content and the collection and identification of users’ IP addresses from which unlawful content on the network is sent. Those addresses are protected personal data. “”
“”Secondly, the injunction could potentially undermine freedom of information since that system might not distinguish adequately between unlawful content and lawful content, with the result that its introduction could lead to the blocking of lawful communications.
“”Consequently, the Court finds that, in adopting the injunction requiring Scarlet to install such a filtering system, the national court would not be respecting the requirement that a fair balance be struck between the right to intellectual property, on the one hand, and the freedom to conduct business, the right to protection of personal data and the right to receive or impart information, on the other.
“Accordingly, the Court’s reply is that EU law precludes an injunction made against an internet service provider requiring it to install a system for filtering all electronic communications passing via its services which applies indiscriminately to all its customers, as a preventive measure, exclusively at its expense, and for an unlimited period.”