Respecting freedom of expression – information on IPR enforcement disclosure requests in Denmark, Finland and Sweden

According to the EU ‘IPR Enforcement Directive’ (IPRED), and its national implementations, internet service providers (ISPs) are obliged to disclose customer information to copyright holders and their representatives following decisions by national courts. The purpose of this article is to inform about how extensive such requests recently have become.

Telia Company’s commitment is to respect freedom of expression and privacy, we therefore report on developments with potentially serious impacts on such rights. IPRED serves the protection of copyright, but may also be problematic in relation to privacy.
 
IPRED-requests
According to the IPRED-laws, copyright holders such as film-companies and their representatives have been granted the power to ask national courts to force ISPs, such as Telia, to disclose information about their customers.

Using different tools scanning the Internet, rights holders are able to compile and provide lists to the courts with IP-numbers which the rights holders claim have been used in breach of copyright law (e.g. illicit file-sharing). The rights holders can therefore ask courts to force the internet service provider to disclose, to the rights holder representative, which individual subscribers that have used each and one of the respective specific IP-numbers.
 
Transparency
Telia is to adhere to court-decisions. At the same time we have a commitment to respect the privacy of our customers and therefore to be transparent. Telia’s aim, with this article, is to inform about the recent significant increase of IPRED-requests. While previous years Telia has received normally less than ten such requests per market and year, lately the number of requests has increased significantly.

A Danish law firm (NJORD Law firm), representing the London based copyright holder Copyright Management Services Ltd, was recently (2017-01-31) granted a court-decision forcing Telia Sweden to disclose to the law firm the subscriber identity behind 25 000 IP-addresses. The total amount of IPRED-decisions directed towards Telia in Sweden during the last 12 months amount to more than 45 000 IP-numbers. In Finland, during the last 12 months, court orders cover almost 37.000 IP-numbers. In Denmark, so far, Telia recently received four court decisions on surrendering data on hundreds of customers.
 
Assessments and next steps
Telia does assume that the courts do perform adequate assessments of the evidence provided by the above law firm, and also that the courts conduct a sufficient assessment of proportionality between copyright and privacy. Telia does not know what the above law firm intends to do with the large amount of customer data which they are now collecting.
 
In Sweden, Telia asked the court for extra time to handle the request for 25 000 IP-numbers, which was approved. Telia will not need to submit the information to the law firm until February 2018.
 
Further information; Telia Sweden has published information to its customers about IPRED here