file sharing

The EUCJ's Ruling on Pirate Bay.

With the recent judgment C-527/15, the European Court of Justice has stated the copyright infringement by "The Pirate Bay", a file sharing web portal. The ECJ affirms that Copyright is violated even if files are uploaded by third-parties, (i.e. the users), as "Pirate Bay’s administrators can not ignore the fact that their platform gives access to published works without the permission of the rights holders."

The arguments used by the Court to censure Pirate Bay seems quite innovatie with respect to the philosophy that has been the base of these operators’ business so far.

Firstly, the Court of Justice ruled that sharing platform managers establish, through their activities, a form of public communication which, under Article 3 of Directive 2001/29 / EC, requires the right holder’s consent for the use of the work in question. In fact, administrators, by publishing content uploaded by users, play an "crucial role" in making them available, such as indexing and managing the various files, categorizing works and deleting old and obsolete files. Lastly, in its observations the EU Court has pointed out that sharing website are liable also because of the considerable advertising revenue generated by the publication of these files.

It is clear that this ruling regards the whole online sharing platform system and increases the responsibility for illegal content uploaded by users.

According to some experts, however, the ruling will have an impact not so much in the world of piracy but rather in the legal sharing video website and on the social network. In fact, having held that works’ provision on a sharing platform constitutes a public communication has more effect on free sharing platforms, such as Youtube, which are part of the so-called User Generated Content (UGC) and that use the streaming rather than actual piracy. Therefore the risk is that UGC sites are too easily assimilated to the category of outdated download torrent website like, indeed, Pirate Bay.

The fact that manager is responsible for actively managing and filtering certain content, seems to prefigure a direct and general responsibility for third parties uploads.

The European debate will be heavily influenced by this decision, because in these days the European Parliament is working on a reformation of copyrights and the relative online platforms’ responsibility.