Top EU court to issue definitive ruling on whether copyright is more important than privacy

Back in November last year, Walled Culture reported on the shocking opinion by a top EU court advisor that copyright was more important than privacy. The case in question was brought by four French associations for the protection of rights and freedoms on the Internet (La Quadrature du Net, the Federation of Associative Internet Access Providers, the and the French Data Network), and concerned the “High Authority for the dissemination of works and the protection of rights on the Internet” (Haute Autorité pour la diffusion des œuvres et la protection des droits sur internet – the infamous HADOPI). The latter has a large database of personal information that it uses to police copyright’s intellectual monopoly in France, and it is one of the main villains in the Walled Culture book (free digital versions available). Euractiv reports that La Quadrature du Net is challenging this approach at the Court of Justice of the European Union, the EU’s top court, on the grounds that it is incompatible with the main EU privacy laws:

The group considers this practice contrary to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the ePrivacy Directive, the two EU laws defining Europe’s data protection regime.

Hadopi was France’s former national anti-piracy regulator, which as of the beginning of 2022, merged with media regulator CSA to form Arcom, the Regulatory Authority for Audiovisual and Digital Communication.

This is an important case, because it will clarify whether copyright infringement can be considered a “serious crime” that trumps privacy concerns and allows general online surveillance of the public despite the region’s privacy laws. In bringing the case, La Quadrature du Net naturally hopes that data protection laws will not be trampled upon so easily, and that the EU’s top court will affirm copyright’s relative lack of importance in the grand scheme of things, but nothing is certain. Euractiv writes:

A new legal opinion to inform the EU Court’s plenary session is expected on 28 September 2023, and the Court’s ruling by the end of the year.

Something to look forward to, then – or to dread.

Featured image by RawPixel.

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