The I. Civil Senate of the German Federal Court of Justice, which is responsible among other things for copyright law, has referred questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union regarding the scope of the information owed by YouTube about those users who have unlawfully uploaded copyrighted content to the platform.
When uploading videos to YouTube “users must register, providing their name, an email address, and a date of birth. For the publication of a video longer than 15 minutes, a telephone number must also be provided. Furthermore, users must consent to the storage of IP addresses.
A rights exploiter is asserting exclusive rights of use against YouTube for the film works “Parker” and “Scary Movie 5”. These films were uploaded to “YouTube” by three different users in 2013 and 2014. Therefore, the plaintiff had filed a claim against YouTube for the provision of information. In the appeal instance, the parties are still disputing whether the plaintiff is entitled to information about the e-mail addresses, the telephone numbers and those IP addresses that were used for uploading the two films and for the last access to the users’ accounts.
The Frankfurt Regional Court had dismissed the action. The plaintiff’s appeal was partially successful. The Higher Regional Court ordered the defendants to provide information about the e-mail addresses of the users who uploaded the films and otherwise dismissed the action. The legal dispute continued with the appeal allowed by the Higher Regional Court.
However, the German Federal Court of Justice has now suspended the proceedings and referred questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union on the interpretation of Directive 2004/48/EC on the enforcement of intellectual property rights.
In the opinion of the Federal Court of Justice, the question arises as to whether the rights set forth in Art. 8 para. 2(a) of Directive 2004/48/EC, the obligation to provide information on the addresses of manufacturers, producers, distributors, suppliers and other previous owners of the goods or services, as well as of professional purchasers and points of sale, also extends to
– the e-mail addresses of the users of the services and/or
– the telephone numbers of the users of the services and/or
– the IP addresses used by the Users of the Services for uploading the infringing files together with the exact time of uploading.
If the duty to provide information includes the IP addresses used for uploading the infringing files, the Federal Court of Justice would like to know, by means of a further question for reference, whether this information also extends to the IP address last used by the user who previously uploaded infringing files to access his user account with the first defendant, together with the exact time of access and irrespective of whether infringements were committed during this last access.