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Court rules for German ISPs in P2P identities case

Can withhold alleged filesharers' details

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ISPs in the state of Hamburg can't be forced to provide customer data to record companies, even when illegal copying is suspected, at least for now. The Higher Regional Court in Hamburg has ruled that there is no legal basis for demanding customer data. ISPs, the court argues, aren't part of the criminal act. They merely provide access to the web.

The Higher Regional Court overruled a earlier decision by the Hamburg District Court, which had granted record companies access to customer data after they discovered an FTP server where numbers by German band Rammstein could be downloaded for free. The District Court based its ruling on the German Copyright Act.

The Higher Regional Court in Hamburg, however, followed a similar ruling by judges of the federal state of Hesse. Here too the court rejected the claim by a music group to hand over the name of a customer who ran an illegal music server.

Experts believe that the setback for the record industry is only temporary as legislators in Germany are drafting a new Telemedia Act, granting the recording industry more freedom in obtaining data from internet service providers.

The developments in Germany are closely watched by experts in the Netherlands. There the Dutch Protection Rights Entertainment Industry Netherlands (BREIN) has just launched its largest round of lawsuits yet targeting 42 individuals suspected of illegally swapping copyrighted music. ®

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