Court agrees with opinion of Advocate General Saugmandsgaard Øe from April 2020.
The Court of Justice has ruled in Constantin Film v YouTube LLC, Google Inc (Case C-264/19) that Article 8(2)(a) of the Enforcement Directive (2004/48/EC) does not cover email addresses, telephone numbers and IP addresses.
The case arose in the context of a dispute between a film distributor, Constantin Film, and YouTube. YouTube and Google refused to provide Constantin Film with the email addresses, telephone numbers and IP addresses of users who had posted online films onto YouTube in breach of Constantin Film’s intellectual property rights.
Under Article 8 of Directive 2004/48, certain information must be provided in the context of proceedings concerning an infringement of an intellectual property right.
The German courts asked whether Article 8(2)(a) meant that for a user who has uploaded files which infringe an intellectual property right, the email address, the telephone number, the IP address used to upload those files and the IP address used when the user’s account was last accessed, be provided.
The Court’s decision
The court ruled that the term "addresses" in Article 8(2) did not cover, for a user who had uploaded files that infringed an intellectual property right, their email address, telephone number and internet protocol address used to upload those files or the IP address used when the user's account was last accessed. The court set out the following reasons for this:
The court agreed with the AG that "addresses" was not defined in the Enforcement Directive and so the meaning and scope of the term had to be decided according to its usual meaning in everyday language. The usual meaning of the term "address", in everyday language, only included the postal address.
The travaux préparatoires for the Enforcement Directive supported that viewpoint. As the AG had pointed out, they did not contain anything which suggested that the term "address" in Article 8(2)(a) referred to the email address, telephone number or IP address as well as a postal address.
In addition, the concept was used in a context that was also in line with that interpretation. The AG had reviewed other EU legislation and concluded that none used the term "address", without further details, to assign the telephone number, IP address or email address. This was also consistent with the general objective of the Enforcement Directive.
The court also said that under Article 8(2)(a) of the Enforcement Directive, member states were not required to provide competent judicial authorities with the power to order disclosure of the email address, telephone number or IP address of the persons referred to in Article 8(2) in IPR infringement proceedings. Nevertheless, member states could choose to so legislate, as long as they struck a fair balance between the various rights and as long as other general EU law principles were respected.