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ECJ makes illegal streaming of films more difficult

Even those who stream movies, series or sports illegally online can be punishable. This was the opinion of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and thus disagreed with the current view that users of streaming portals, unlike their operators, would have little to fear. According to lawyers, however, a new warning wave is not in sight.

Illegal Film Industry

In the specific case, the Dutch website Filmspeler was really about. This offered a multimedia box for the TV, on which additional add-ons were installed. In turn, the owners were also able to access illegal streaming sites.

new film tech

The Dutch association Brein had complained that the court in the Netherlands had passed the decision to the ECJ.The ECJ now ruled that the sale of such mediaplayers would be a “public reproduction” of protected works, which is reserved to the rightholder in principle. Furthermore, the actual streaming and public film over the box could constitute a copyright infringement: the purchaser of such a media player voluntarily and in the knowledge of the situation to a free and unauthorized offer of protected access to works, states in the reason for the decision.

An “abnormal action”

Even if the case relates to filmspeler, the judgment could theoretically be applied to any other device that supports streaming – for example, computers. To date, users of sites such as have been considered relatively safe from copyright infringements, as they have consumed the illegal content but have not spread it.

public reproduction

This is different from the peer-to-peer file sharing. The decision of the ECJ could possibly have a signal effect in future cases.

The EU’s Attorney General wrote before the verdict in his plea that anyone who protected protected content would recognize that this was an illegal offer: it was an “abnormal” action, “legally expressed, owed to the intention of the user Is to use the filmspeler to enjoy the digital content without paying an economic consideration. ”

Whether this view also applies to other offers such as streams on websites, the courts still have to decide on a case by case basis. They would then have to determine whether the users could distinguish a legal from an illegal offer.
Experts such as the Cologne attorney Christian Solmecke do not see a new warning wave about public film reproduction. Users can continue to be tracked only via the IP addresses and these do not usually save the operators of illegal offers, he writes on his website. It could be different for offers that demand money for a “premium access”: Here, for example, the users could be identified more easily via payment data.

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