MPAA Argues Privacy Laws Protect Pirates

Published: November 10, 2015 10:02 PM /



The MPAA has submitted a statement to the United States Trade Representative detailing what it considers the biggest concerns when doing business in other countries. It seems that the MPAA is mainly concerned about privacy getting in the way of combating piracy. Many countries, particularly in the EU, have privacy protection laws which make it difficult to track down the pirates the MPAA argues.

In the report, the MPAA criticizes the strictness of data protection in the EU, and in particular the fact that IP addresses are considered personal data.

All EU Member States have detailed data protection laws. These rules, often very strict, are subject to the interpretation of the national data protection authorities. These authorities, which have significant discretionary power, work together and regularly adopt opinions and recommendations at the EU level. Most of them consider IP addresses as personal data and believe that the privacy rules apply to their use.
The MPAA also considers it "very problematic" that "Many national data privacy authorities, and the “Article 29 Working party” (which groups these authorities), strictly interpret data protection rules and tend to consider that privacy rules are more important than other norms." The MPAA cites this prioritization of privacy over the protection of copyright as the reason that many ISPs refuse to cooperate with copyright holders in dealing with piracy.
The MPAA also raised concern with a court ruling last year that invalidated an EU directive requiring ISPs to retain detailed IP address logs. The MPAA believes data retention is necessary to track down pirates.
Data retention remains a very valuable tool for law enforcement. Right holders have always claimed the need for reasonable rules and legal certainty. This decision has created even more legal uncertainty in this field. Member States have started to respond to the consequences of this decision with legislation and some have invalidated their rules.
The MPAA may be barking up the wrong tree by bringing this complaint to the USTR. It would be strange, to say the least, for the US to argue that the EU should require data retention when the US itself does not have any law requiring data retention by ISPs.
Is the MPAA right? Does the EU need to curtail its "problematic" levels of privacy in order to protect copyright? Leave your comments below.


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