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November 24, 2011

Courts can’t force ISPs to filter content: ECJ

Filtering system would also be liable to infringe the fundamental rights, says court

By CBR Staff Writer

The EU Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that internet service providers (ISPs) cannot be forced to filter out illegal content.

The ruling relates to a case where Belgian music firm SABAM had obtained an injunction in a case filed in 2004 against ISP Scarlet Extended SA by a Brussels court over users illegally downloading songs over peer-to-peer networks.

ECJ said EU law precludes the imposition of an injunction by a national court which requires an internet service provider to install a filtering system with a view to preventing the illegal downloading of files.

It added, "The filtering system would also be liable to infringe the fundamental rights of its (Scarlet’s) customers, namely their right to protection of their personal data and their right to receive or impart information."

This decision is a huge victory for filesharers and advocates of freedom and an open internet, other than ISPs throughout Europe.

European consumer organisation BEUC said the ruling should make the authorities and companies thinking about a fairer procedure to provide legal digital content for consumers.

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