European Court of Justice rules sale of devices that make piracy easier may violate copyright law

European Court of Justice rules sale of devices that make piracy easier may violate copyright law

The European Court of Justice [official website] ruled [judgment, text] Wednesday that devices with pre-installed software that make it easier to stream pirated content may violate an European Union (EU) copyright protection directive [text, PDF]. The court determined that the sale of such multimedia players, often including popular so-called “streaming sticks,” constitute a “communication to the public” that falls within the definition of the statute, which is prohibited. Because the purpose of the directive was to create a high level of protection for authors, the court held that “communication to the public” must be interpreted broadly. The court also found [press release] that even temporary acts of reproduction of copyrighted work by streaming on a third party website that offers the work without the copyright holder’s consent cannot be exempted from the right of reproduction.

File-sharing sites and the sharing of copyrighted materials continues to be a global issue. Last month the US Supreme Court declined [JURIST report] to hear an appeal [order list, PDF] from record companies that want to pursue a copyright infringement case against music site Vimeo [corporate website] for hosting music by classic artists. In February the Swedish Court of Patent Appeals and the Market Court [official website, in Swedish], an appellate court with exclusive jurisdiction over intellectual property cases, ordered [judgment, PDF, in Swedish] an Internet service provider (ISP) to block access to the file-sharing site The Pirate Bay and the streaming site Swefilmer. In December the Federal Court of Australia ordered [JURIST report] an ISP to block five named companies and all their related websites. The same issue was decided by Irish and Dutch courts in 2013 and 2014, where the courts came to different results.