Sabam vs. Netlog: The European Court of Justice strikes a blow for Internet freedom
The European Internet Services Providers Association (EuroISPA) welcomes the Court of Justice’s ruling that hosting providers cannot be required to apply pre-publication scrutiny of users’ communications.
February 2012. BRUSSELS – EuroISPA welcomes the Court of Justice’s clarification in Sabam v Netlog that the responsibility of Internet hosting providers for content is limited to material of which they are actually aware. Hosting providers cannot be required to go searching for questionable material so as to suppress content that nobody has ever complained about. This ruling gives greater legal certainty to Internet providers and ensures protection for the right to publish content without prior censorship.
The Internet industry plays a crucial part in connecting European citizens and businesses to information, news, entertainment, social media, cultural content and other public interest content. This ruling is therefore of fundamental importance for the future of the Internet and the development of a strong Digital Single Market.“The Internet industry plays a vital role in stimulating the economic recovery and sustainable growth. We therefore welcome the greater legal certainties and protection granted by the Court which are necessary to guarantee the openness of the Internet to the benefit of the development of an innovative Information Society”, said Malcolm Hutty, President of EuroISPA.
On 23 June 2009, the Belgian Social networking website Netlog was sued by the Belgian copyright society SABAM which claimed that Netlog should be held responsible for copyright infringement by its users through a cease-and-desist order, which would inevitably require the installation of a system to filter all incoming and saved information of all users of Netlog. On 28 June 2010, the Court followed Netlog’s advice to seek a ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union on whether EU law permits national courts to order hosting providers to install a system for filtering and blocking electronic communications.
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