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Sunday, June 15, 2014

European Court Ruled Piracy May Be Legal, Sometimes

A court in the EU has recently ruled that its citizens may pirate copyrighted material if they do so in a particular way. It turned out that if an Internet user is streaming the material protected by copyright online, it is legal for the user, as they are not willfully making a copy of that content to view. Although the pirate can not save files and store them on their drives, they can watch them directly via a web browser, streaming from a service that hosts the content. This will be absolutely legal, according to the court of the European Union.

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The court ruling was delivered as part of a legal battle between the EU media service Meltwater, which used to include headlines from news stories in daily digests it sent to its subscribers through email, and the news copyrighters. Various copyright holders, including the Associated Press, have sued the media service, claiming that Meltwater stole their content.

Surprisingly enough, the case crossed into strange territory in Europe. The rights owners suing Meltwater argued that recipients of the emails from the media service had to pay license fees for the letters they received. However, the court of the European Union basically decided that Internet users who see the material online, without actually willingly making a copy of it, cannot be held responsible for any resulting copyright violation.

Although Meltwater is not off the hook yet, at least its customers certainly are. In addition, the ruling actually means that if you stream content from the website, you can’t be done for piracy. In other words, Europe got a new rule to follow: viewers cannot be prosecuted. This precedent should be good news for thousands of German users who recently received fines at home for streaming porn content from a site in 2013.

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