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Filtering the Net for Copyright Runs Counter to Fundamental Rights

Paris, April 14th, 2011 - Today, the advocate general of the European Court of Justice rendered his conclusions in the Scarlet/SABAM case, in which a Belgian judge ordered an Internet access provider to filter its subscribers' communications to block unauthorized transmissions of copyrighted works. He concludes that such filtering measures are way too restrictive of freedom of expression and privacy, thereby reasserting the importance of fundamental rights online and stressing the disproportionate character of filtering measures to enforce copyright on the Internet. This should compel the EU Commission to revise its copyright enforcement strategy, as it undertakes the revision of the anti-sharing IPRED directive.

For more background about the Scarlet vs. SABAM case, see our previous analysis on the matter1.

"The advocate general's conclusions make clear that asking Internet service providers to police their networks to enforce copyright runs counter to fundamental rights. Let's hope that the Court will follow these conclusions, and that freedom of communication on the Internet will prevail over our outdated copyright regime. Furthermore, the conclusions should compel the Commission to back away from its strategy to transform Internet companies into a copyright police monitoring their users' activities to prevent any potential infringement -- a strategy that is being pursued through ACTA and the upcoming revision of the IPRED enforcement directive. Dogmatic copyright repression is a total failure, and policy-makers now need to look for constructive alternatives to fund artistic creation in the digital environment," declares Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.