What data does Youtube have to give to a film company about a user who has uploaded films illegally? The BGH did not issue a ruling on Thursday, but the judges’ answer is clear.

Since there have been platforms like Youtube, films have been uploaded illegally, and since then the film industry has been using all legal means to prevent this. Now one of the central legal questions has finally reached the Federal Court of Justice. In response to the action brought by Constantin Film Verleihs, the BGH has now negotiated how far the affected companies’ claims to information against YouTube actually extend in the case of illegal uploads. According to German copyright law, the right to “name and address” applies, while the relevant EU directive speaks of “names and addresses”.


But whether this means the conventional postal address or also email and IP addresses plus telephone number, the BGH first had to ask the European Court of Justice. After his judgment in July, the answer is pretty clear, at least that’s what the BGH Senate Chairman Thomas Koch was to understand in the Karlsruhe hearing on Thursday. Constantin Film will probably not be able to request more than the postal address and the name of the user, who among other things Scary Movie 5 uploaded. Which in this case means: A certain “Whole movies for you”, living in a fantasy street.

Old-fashioned like postal addresses

The lawyers of the rental company complained that the defense of their rights would be ineffective without an email and IP address. During the trial, however, it was also learned that the mostly fruitless information suits are about as old-fashioned as postal addresses.

Youtube attorney Thomas Winter referred to the Content ID system developed by Google for Youtube, a kind of database in which the media groups save their files for comparison on Youtube. Uploaded films can then either be blocked or, as it were, monetized by the real rights holder placing advertisements. In any case, many media companies have now concluded license agreements with YouTube, as Winter explained on the sidelines of the negotiation. Both sides benefit from the uploads, the producers from the license and YouTube from the attractiveness of the platform.


In addition, the protection of authors is currently being relaunched. A few days ago, the Federal Ministry of Justice presented a draft bill to implement several EU copyright directives into German law. Part of the reform is also stricter liability from platforms such as Youtube. They either have to purchase licenses for the uploaded content – or make sure that it disappears from their platform. So there is no need for the BGH to expand the claims of the film industry with a bold interpretation of the law, said Winter: “If there is something to be regulated legally, then the legislature has long been involved.” The BGH will announce its verdict in a few weeks.


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