SABAM vs. Netlog: general filtering systems for the prevention of copyright infringements are disproportionate

The European Court of Justice has issued a ruling today in the case SABAM v Netlog NV where it confirms its prior decision in the Scarlet case.

The Court first ruled that the implementation of general filtering systems collides with the prohibition contained in the E-Commerce Directive to Member States to impose a general obligation to monitor on service providers conducting activities of mere conduit, caching and hosting.

On 10 July 2010, the Brussels Court of First Instance denied the penalty payment request and submitted a question for preliminary ruling. The Court of First Instance asked the European Court whether or not a national judge may issue an injunction against a hosting service provider to filter most of the information stored on its servers in order to identify electronic files containing musical, cinematographic or audio-visual work, and subsequently to block the exchange of such files. The injunction that SABAM requested covered all Netlog customers, in abstracto and as a preventive measure.

 In today’s decision, the Court decided that it is against European law to order such a measure. The generality and broadness of such an injunction is against freedom of communication, privacy rights and freedom to conduct business.

Fulvio Sarzana
Studio Legale Roma Sarzana & Associati
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