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French Ct. Rules Privacy Trumps Copyright Investigations

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Friday December 22, 2006
In a case reminiscent of the CRIA file sharing litigation from 2004-05, a French court has ruled that privacy interests trump the rights of copyright holders to engage in aggressive investigative tactics.  A court annulled a decision against an alleged file sharer after it was revealed that the rights holder traced the defendant's IP address and submitted it to the police. Moreover, it noted that the tactic could open the copyright holder to an invasion of privacy claim, which carries potential penalties of 300,000 euros and up to five years in prison.
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Janie Duncan said:

Investigator
First of all, you should no be comparing France's law relative to Canadian Law as both laws are clearly different relative to the Privacy Issues. In Canada, it is legal to disclose information to an investigative body if there has been a contravention of a law, and in this case it is the Copyright Act that is being violated. Secondly, in the case that you refer to, the judge dismissed the application brought against the file sharers because of lack of evidence, and not due to privacy issues. It is my understanding that the company hired was unable to prove the identity of the file sharers by way of their IP addresses, which of course could open the doors to privacy issues if their evidence to identify the
wrongdoers is not conclusive. Secondly, the investigation did not establish the wrongdoers were distributing the music files or advertsing them for sale over the internet for public use. Submitting evidence to the police about someone violating the law is certainly not invasive in my opinion. Isn't that what you do, if you see a crime happening. I think that it is important in any private investigation that you weigh the privacy interests of the parties you are investigating relative to the needs and purpose of the investigation. If there are reasonable grounds to believe a crime is being committed, I think this is just cause for the copyright holders to carry on with an investigation to provide conclusive evidence to police or legal counsel that a crime is in fact being committed. Janie Duncan, Private Investigator - Duncan Investigations.
April 08, 2007

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