French minister: copyright above privacy

By EDRi · November 3, 2005

After the French data protection authority CNIL published a strong rejection of the systematic collection of IP-addresses by the music and film industry, the French minister of Culture, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, said he would look at the current implementation of the Copyright Directive to override these privacy-hurdles. The proposal for implementation will be discussed in the Lower House for the first time on 6 December 2005.

On 18 October 2005 the CNIL organised a debate with representatives of the entertainment industry to discuss their strategy to deal with unlawful file-sharing. The collecting societies proposed to employ automatic systems to detect copyright infringement on peer to peer networks, and secondly, to force internet service providers to translate a given IP-address into an e-mail address and forward a ‘pedagogical’ e-mail message from the societies to their customer.

Though the French privacy law, as modified in August 2004, allows for actions against copyright infringement, the CNIL rejects both proposals.

First of all, service providers should not collaborate with the industry. The CNIL quotes a ruling from the Constitutional Court of 29 July 2004 that the use of traffic data in relation to copyright infringement should be under judicial control.

The CNIL also sums up 4 strong reasons why the automatic collection of IP addresses is not proportional, and thus not allowed in France:

-The goal is not strictly limited to the fight against infringement
-The approach may easily lead to the massive collection of personal data
-It allows for extensive and permanent surveillance of peer to peer networks
-Users may be prosecuted in civil or penal proceedings as a result of the collection, but it is unclear which users risk prosecution, since the copyright societies base their decision to start proceedings only on the amount of works offered, an amount they can change anytime they feel like it.

La Cnil gêne ? Changeons les règles ! (in French, 27.10.2005)

Conclusions CNIL on the policy of warning and tracing P2P-users (in French, 24.10.2005)