Weiteres Forschungsprojekt
Immaterialgüter- und Wettbewerbsrecht

Balancing Rights in the Digital Age: the Case of Copyright vs. Personal Data Protection

The work focuses on some lawsuits, where copyright collided with privacy. The comparison involves the European system and the US and Canadian ones. The project aims to 1. compare the solutions adopted in the considered systems; 2. develop an interpretative approach to examine judges’ decisions in balancing conflicting rights.

Last Update: 07.09.15

This work is based on a number of selected lawsuits, where copyright holders tried to enforce their rights against Internet users suspected of illegal file-sharing.

A common feature of the cases was that users were normally only partially identifiable through their IP address. Users’ real identity was known only by ISPs (Internet Service Providers), who gave them Internet connection. Thus, copyright holders asked ISPs to provide them with users’ real identities. ISPs have sometimes refused to collaborate, forcing copyright holders to sue them in order to obtain a judicial provision imposing the disclosure of users’ data. Hence, a vibrant conflict between users’ data protection and copyright holders’ enforceable rights arose.

Employing a comparative approach, the case study explores the way judges solved this conflict. The comparison involves the European system (with particular regard to Italy), as well as the USA and Canada.

The book has two goals, which are strictly intertwined one with the other.

The primary goal is to analyze the cases and the regulatory frameworks concerning both privacy and copyright in the three systems under scrutiny, in order to show that the decisions were the by-products of different policy conceptions of the two conflicting rights.

A second goal of the book is, in the wake of existing literature, to stimulate further the debate on the role that judges have in balancing conflicting rights. In connection with this second goal, the book will also shed some light on the possible influence of policy and culture on judicial decisions, applying a contextual analysis.


Project Manager

Dr. Federica Giovanella

Main Areas of Research