Tuesday, May 17, 2005

German Court: Providers Not Obliged To Provide Customer Data

The Higher Regional Court of Hamburg has ruled that access providers are not legally obliged to provide customer data to rightsholders when there is a suspicion of illegal copying and dissemination of copyright protected works. Unlike the District Court before, the Higher Regional Court provided a narrow interpretation of the right to information in infringement cases provided by paragraph 101a of the German Copyright Act. It noted that this only applied to those involved in the actual infringing acts, and not the access providers themselves.

The question is if this ruling, and a similar one by a Frankfurt Court, will hold under future legislation. The draft for a new Telemedia Act contains a provision that gives ISPs the right to hand over customer data to copyrightholders, among others. Commentators have noticed that this right may become an obligation, thus weakening data protection for the benefit of (copyright) enforcement.

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