Feeds

Social networks can't be forced to filter content, rules top EU court

Another blow for rights' group Sabam

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Social network operators cannot be forced to filter out content such as copyrighted music, the European Union's highest court ruled today.

Such a system would fail to adequately protect the personal data of social networking users, said the EU Court of Justice (ECJ).

"The owner of an online social network cannot be obliged to install a general filtering system, covering all its users, in order to prevent the unlawful use of musical and audio-visual work," it confirmed.

Netlog, which says it has around 95 million users in Europe, was described by the ECJ as a hosting service provider in the ruling.

The court said:

Such preventive monitoring would therefore require active observation of the files stored by users with the owner of the social network.

Accordingly, the filtering system would require that owner to carry out general monitoring of the information stored on its servers, something which is prohibited by the E-Commerce Directive.

The Court next recalls that, in the context of measures adopted to protect copyright holders, national authorities and courts must strike a fair balance between the protection of copyright and the protection of the fundamental rights of individuals who are affected by such measures.

That decision is another blow for Sabam – a Belgian artists' and authors' rights group that had complained about the practices of social networking outfit Netlog.

The pro-copyright organisation previously won a court order in 2007, forcing Belgian ISP Scarlet Extended to come up with a filtering system that blocked users from illegally downloading copyrighted material.

In November last year the ECJ ruled that Scarlet should not have to filter copyright-infringing traffic from its service because to do so would invade users' privacy.

The Register asked Sabam to comment on this story, but it hadn't got back to us at time of writing.

The ruling is here. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.