Austrian and German courts protect identity file-sharers

By EDRi · December 30, 2004

The music industry has suffered a severe setback by two verdicts by courts
in Munich and Vienna. Both courts ruled that internet service providers
did not have to hand-over data about customers. In the Munich case, the
Higher Regional Court squashed an earlier verdict that obliged providers
to hand-over data about users suspected of operating illegal FTP servers.
In July the music label BMG was granted the right to demand information
from an access provider, but the execution was suspended during the appeal
procedure. BMG even demanded information from the provider on the number
of tracks and albums of individual bands or artists downloaded from the
server named in the complaint. The Munich appelate court said they had
serious doubts “whether the defendant threatened with the injunction is an
actual participant in the – alleged – infringement of copyright” and
specifically added “it is obvious that the contested ruling cannot
conceivably continue to stand.”

In Vienna, the music industry launched a similar case against a provider,
demanding the personal data of customers behind dynamic IP-addresses.
According to the music industry, the Austrian copyright law obliges the
providers to provide information about the identity of infringers under
paragraph 87b, sub 3. The Viennese criminal court did not agree, and said
that such data could only be provided in case of a serious offence or
infringement that can be punished with imprisonment of more than 6 months.
The current punishment in Austria for the uploading of files without
commercial purpose is maximum 6 months.

Providers have to dig deep in their logfiles to connect a dynamic
IP-adress to a specific customer. Under the Austrian telecom-law traffic
data fall under the communication secrecy and enjoy a high level of
protection. Hand-over of such data is not allowed for minor infringements.
The Austrian association of internet providers (ISPA) has suggested a
lower level of protection might apply to static IP-adresses, but they also
recommend providers should wait for a clear court order.

Legal setback for music industry in fight against piracy (21.12.2004)

Verdict Viennese Court (01.12.2004)

Provider müssen Daten nicht herausgeben (24.12.2004)