The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has recently given a preliminary ruling in a case C-170/12 regarding the scope of national jurisdiction in online copyright infringement under the Brussels I Regulation (44/2001/EC). The CJEU ruled that court proceedings may be brought in any jurisdiction where the allegedly copyright infringing material is accessible.

The request from the Cour de cassation (France) regarding the interpretation of Article 5(3) of the Brussels I Regulation in proceedings between Peter Pinckney (Pinckney) and KDG Mediatech AG (Mediatech) concerned the selection of appropriate jurisdiction in an online copyright infringement case when the claimant and the defendant are established in different Member States. Pinckney, established in France, holds the copyright to twelve musical pieces, which Mediatech, an Austrian company, allegedly reproduced onto a material support without authorization. Furthermore, the media reproduced by Mediatech was marketed online by two companies based in the United Kingdom.

Thus, the question referred to the CJEU was where damage can occur in copyright infringement cases and whether resultant damage can occur in a state other than where the reproduction was made. The CJEU held that Article 5(3) of the Brussels I Regulation must be interpreted as meaning that a court is competent if the Member State protects the rights in question and the harmful alleged event may occur within its jurisdiction. The CJEU gave prominence to the fact that it was possible to access the internet site and to obtain a reproduction of the work within the jurisdiction of the court. However, that court will only have jurisdiction to determine the damage caused in the Member State within which it is situated.

Another recent preliminary ruling of the CJEU (C-218/12) concerned the interpretation of Article 15(1)(c) of the Brussels I Regulation (44/2001/EC) regarding consumer protection in cross-border sales. The proceedings between Lokman Emrek (Emrek) and Vlado Sabranovic (Sabranovic) concerned Emrek’s purchase of a car from Sabranovic’s business on the French side of the French-German border, and whether German courts were competent on the grounds that Sabranovic used a website to target his activities to Germany. The Landgericht of Saarbrücken (Germany) specifically questioned whether a causal link between the means used to direct commercial activity and the conclusion of a contract with a consumer is needed. The CJEU noted that while the Brussels I Regulation does not require the existence of a causal link, it may constitute strong evidence when determining whether the commercial activity has indeed been directed at a particular Member State.