European Court of Justice to rule on the legality of online streaming

A Dutch Court has sought clarification with the EU Court of Justice on the legality of online streaming.Â

Unlike traditional forms of downloading, in many countries the legality of viewing unauthorised streams remains unclear.

The question was raised in a case between Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN and the shop, which sells “piracy configured” media players. While these devices don’t host any infringing content, they come preconfigured with add-ons to watch infringing content.

The first set of questions is closely tied to the case and asks whether selling pre-programmed media-players with links to pirate sources is permitted, and whether the add-ons are freely available.Â

The second set of questions relates to streaming in general, which affects millions of users and large multinationals such as Google. Â

The court first asks the following question:

 “Is it lawful under EU law to temporarily reproduce content through streaming if the content originates from a third-party website where it’s made available without permission?”

If this is not the case, then the EU Court of Justice is asked to clarify whether it violates the “three-step-test” of the EU Copyright Directive.

The answers will be of interest to many stakeholders including Google who have a significant interest in streaming related issues because of YouTube, and members of the general public since streaming is so common.

BREIN is happy with the court’s referral and hopes that the EU Court’s ruling will bring more clarity on the streaming issue. But for now, it doesn’t plan to stop going after sellers of pirate boxes.

“BREIN is pleased that more clarity will be given through these fundamental questions which in the current case law of the CJEU stay unanswered. Meanwhile BREIN persists in its approach towards traders of similar media-players with illegal preprogrammed software,” the group notes.

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