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Ease data privacy rules to protect copyright, CJEU told

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A court adviser said copyright authorities must be able to access data linked to internet protocol addresses where necessary

An adviser to the Court of Justice of the EU said national authorities tasked with investigating copyright infringement should be given greater access to personal data to aid investigations in an opinion published on Thursday, October 27.

Advocate general (AG) Maciej Szpunar concluded that EU privacy laws allowed for the retention of civil identity data, such as contact details linked to internet protocol addresses, when it was the only way of identifying alleged infringers.

If the opinion were adopted, it would be a significant shift from established CJEU case law, which has so far limited identification via internet protocol addresses to instances of serious crime and threats to public safety.

The AG issued the non-binding opinion in response to a challenge brought by four civil liberty groups against a 2010 decree from the French government.

The decree allowed France’s Regulatory Authority for Audiovisual and Digital Communication, formerly known as HADOPI, access to civil identity data.

The retention of such data should be time-limited and subject to the principle of proportionality, as required by the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, Szpunar wrote.

Szpunar said the CJEU’s previous position left national governments unable to use the only means of investigating some online copyright infringements.

“That would lead to de facto systemic impunity for offences committed exclusively online, not just infringements of intellectual property rights.

“Short of accepting that a whole range of criminal offences may evade prosecution entirely, I take the view that the balance between the different interests at stake should be examined afresh,” Szpunar wrote.

According to the CJEU, judges have begun to consider the case.

The CJEU is not duty-bound to follow AG opinions but does so in many instances.

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