The Higher Regional Court in Hamburg ruled today that ISPs in the state of Hamburg cannot be forced by record companies to hand over subscriber identities even if copyright infringement is suspected. The court ruled that there is no legal basis for demanding the subscriber data from the ISPs as they aren’t involved in the criminal activity; they only provide their customers with access to the Internet. The decision over-ruled an earlier decision by the Hamburg District Court which granted record labels access to consumer data.
The labels had discovered an FTP server running that illegally made songs by German rock band Rammstein available to be downloaded. The district court had based its ruling on the German Copyright Act. The difference in this case however, is that the labels weren’t looking for the identity of a P2P user who was illegally uploading music to other users. You would think that the labels would have a better chance at getting the info of a subscriber running an FTP server than a P2P user sharing music.
However, according to experts, this setback for the record companies is only temporary. Legislators in Germany are drafting a new Telemedia Act which will grant the recording industry more freedom in obtaining personal data on subscribers from ISPs.