The European Court of Justice takes a position on the liability of owners of Internet connections who commit copyright infringements through file sharing. A reference to the law of private and family life does not exclude liability.

In its ruling of 18 October 2018, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the owner of an Internet connection cannot evade liability for copyright infringement through file sharing solely by naming a family member who also has access to this connection. According to the ECJ, the reference to the law of private and family life is a national legal provision which is contrary to Union law.

In the Court’s view, there is no proper balance between the right to an effective remedy and intellectual property rights and the right to respect for private and family life with regard to copyright infringement by file sharing. This is particularly the case where the national court hearing the liability claim is prevented from requesting evidence in order to establish the alleged infringement of copyright and to identify the offender. The invocation of respect for private and family life leads to an absolute protection of the owner of the Internet connection.