IP case law Court of Justice

eCommerce Directive

Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market

13 preliminary rulings

Judgment of 7 Aug 2018, C-521/17 (SNB-REACT)

Articles 12 to 14 of Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (‘Directive on electronic commerce’) must be interpreted as meaning that the limitations of liability for which they provide apply to the provider of an IP address rental and registration service allowing the anonymous use of internet domain names, such as that at issue in the case in the main proceedings, inasmuch as that service comes within the scope of one of the categories of service referred to in those articles and meets all the corresponding conditions, in so far as the activity of such a service provider is of a merely technical, automatic and passive nature, implying that he has neither knowledge of nor control over the information transmitted or cached by his customers, and in so far as he does not play an active role in allowing those customers to optimise their online sales activity, these being matters for the referring court to verify.

Judgment of 20 Dec 2017, C-434/15 (Uber Systems Spain)

  Article 56 TFEU, read together with Article 58(1) TFEU, as well as Article 2(2)(d) of Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal market, and Article 1(2) of Directive 98/34/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 June 1998 laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations and of rules on Information Society services, as amended by Directive 98/48/EC of the European Parliament and of Council of 20 July 1998, to which Article 2(a) of Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (‘Directive on electronic commerce’) refers, must be interpreted as meaning that an intermediation service such as that at issue in the main proceedings, the purpose of which is to connect, by means of a smartphone application and for remuneration, non-professional drivers using their own vehicle with persons who wish to make urban journeys, must be regarded as being inherently linked to a transport service and, accordingly, must be classified as ‘a service in the field of transport’ within the meaning of Article 58(1) TFEU. Consequently, such a service must be excluded from the scope of Article 56 TFEU, Directive 2006/123 and Directive 2000/31.  

Judgment of 15 Sep 2016, C-484/14 (McFadden)

Article 12(1) of Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the internal market (‘Directive on electronic commerce’), read in conjunction with Article 2(a) of that directive and with Article 1(2) of Directive 98/34/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 June 1998 laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations and of rules on information society services, as amended by Directive 98/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 July 1998, must be interpreted as meaning that a service such as that at issue in the main proceedings, provided by a communication network operator and consisting in making that network available to the general public free of charge constitutes an ‘information society service’ within the meaning of Article 12(1) of Directive 2000/31 where the activity is performed by the service provider in question for the purposes of advertising the goods sold or services supplied by that service provider.

Article 12(1) of Directive 2000/31 must be interpreted as meaning that, in order for the service referred to in that article, consisting in providing access to a communication network, to be considered to have been provided, that access must not go beyond the boundaries of a technical, automatic and passive process for the transmission of the required information, there being no further conditions to be satisfied.

Article 12(1) of Directive 2000/31 must be interpreted as meaning that the condition laid down in Article 14(1)(b) of that directive does not apply mutatis mutandis to Article 12(1) of Directive 2000/31.

Article 12(1) of Directive 2000/31, read in conjunction with Article 2(b) of that directive, must be interpreted as meaning that there are no conditions, other than the one mentioned in that provision, to which a service provider supplying access to a communication network is subject.

Article 12(1) of Directive 2000/31 must be interpreted as meaning that a person harmed by the infringement of its rights over a work is precluded from claiming compensation from an access provider on the ground that the connection to that network was used by a third party to infringe its rights and the reimbursement of the costs of giving formal notice or court costs incurred in relation to its claim for compensation. However, that article must be interpreted as meaning that it does not preclude such a person from claiming injunctive relief against the continuation of that infringement and the payment of the costs of giving formal notice and court costs from a communication network access provider whose services were used in that infringement where such claims are made for the purposes of obtaining, or follow the grant of injunctive relief by a national authority or court to prevent that service provider from allowing the infringement to continue.

Having regard to the requirements deriving from the protection of fundamental rights and to the rules laid down in Directives 2001/29 and 2004/48, Article 12(1) of Directive 2000/31, read in conjunction with Article 12(3) of that directive, must be interpreted as, in principle, not precluding the grant of an injunction such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which requires, on pain of payment of a fine, a provider of access to a communication network allowing the public to connect to the internet to prevent third parties from making a particular copyright-protected work or parts thereof available to the general public from an online (peer-to-peer) exchange platform via an internet connection, where that provider may choose which technical measures to take in order to comply with the injunction even if such a choice is limited to a single measure consisting in password-protecting the internet connection, provided that those users are required to reveal their identity in order to obtain the required password and may not therefore act anonymously, a matter which it is for the referring court to ascertain.

Judgment of 11 Sep 2014, C-291/13 (Papasavvas)

Article 2(a) of Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (‘Directive on electronic commerce’) must be interpreted as meaning that the concept of ‘information society services’, within the meaning of that provision, covers the provision of online information services for which the service provider is remunerated, not by the recipient, but by income generated by advertisements posted on a website.

In a case such as that at issue in the main proceedings, Directive 2000/31 does not preclude the application of rules of civil liability for defamation.

The limitations of civil liability specified in Articles 12 to 14 of Directive 2000/31 do not apply to the case of a newspaper publishing company which operates a website on which the online version of a newspaper is posted, that company being, moreover, remunerated by income generated by commercial advertisements posted on that website, since it has knowledge of the information posted and exercises control over that information, whether or not access to that website is free of charge.

The limitations of civil liability specified in Articles 12 to 14 of Directive 2000/31 are capable of applying in the context of proceedings between individuals relating to civil liability for defamation, where the conditions referred to in those articles are satisfied.

Articles 12 to 14 of Directive 2000/31 do not allow information society service providers to oppose the bringing of legal proceedings for civil liability against them and, consequently, the adoption of a prohibitory injunction by a national court. The limitations of liability provided for in those articles may be invoked by the provider in accordance with the provisions of national law transposing them or, failing that, for the purpose of an interpretation of that law in conformity with the directive. By contrast, in a case such as that in the main proceedings, Directive 2000/31 cannot, in itself, create obligations on the part of individuals and therefore cannot be relied on against those individuals.

Judgment of 15 Mar 2012, C-292/10 (Cornelius de Visser)

Article 3(1) and (2) of Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market does not apply to a situation where the place of establishment of the information society services provider is unknown, since application of that provision is subject to identification of the Member State in whose territory the service provider in question is actually established.

Judgment of 16 Feb 2012, C-360/10 (SABAM / Netlog)

Directives: – 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (Directive on electronic commerce); – 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society; and – 2004/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the enforcement of intellectual property rights, read together and construed in the light of the requirements stemming from the protection of the applicable fundamental rights, must be interpreted as precluding a national court from issuing an injunction against a hosting service provider which requires it to install a system for filtering: – information which is stored on its servers by its service users; – which applies indiscriminately to all of those users; – as a preventative measure; – exclusively at its expense; and – for an unlimited period, which is capable of identifying electronic files containing musical, cinematographic or audio-visual work in respect of which the applicant for the injunction claims to hold intellectual property rights, with a view to preventing those works from being made available to the public in breach of copyright.

Judgment of 25 Oct 2011, C-509/09 (eDate)

Article 3 of Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (‘Directive on electronic commerce’), must be interpreted as not requiring transposition in the form of a specific conflict-of-laws rule. Nevertheless, in relation to the coordinated field, Member States must ensure that, subject to the derogations authorised in accordance with the conditions set out in Article 3(4) of Directive 2000/31, the provider of an electronic commerce service is not made subject to stricter requirements than those provided for by the substantive law applicable in the Member State in which that service provider is established.

Judgment of 12 Jul 2011, C-324/09 (L’Oréal)

Article 14(1) of Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (‘Directive on electronic commerce’) must be interpreted as applying to the operator of an online marketplace where that operator has not played an active role allowing it to have knowledge or control of the data stored. The operator plays such a role when it provides assistance which entails, in particular, optimising the presentation of the offers for sale in question or promoting them. Where the operator of the online marketplace has not played an active role within the meaning of the preceding paragraph and the service provided falls, as a consequence, within the scope of Article 14(1) of Directive 2000/31, the operator none the less cannot, in a case which may result in an order to pay damages, rely on the exemption from liability provided for in that provision if it was aware of facts or circumstances on the basis of which a diligent economic operator should have realised that the offers for sale in question were unlawful and, in the event of it being so aware, failed to act expeditiously in accordance with Article 14(1)(b) of Directive 2000/31.

Judgment of 2 Dec 2010, C-108/09 (Ker-Optika)

The national rules relating to the selling of contact lenses fall within the scope of Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal market (‘Directive on electronic commerce’), since they concern the act of selling such lenses via the Internet. On the other hand, the national rules relating to the supply of contact lenses are not covered by that directive. Articles 34 TFEU and 36 TFEU, and Directive 2000/31, must be interpreted as precluding national legislation which authorises the selling of contact lenses only in shops which specialise in medical devices.

Judgment of 23 Mar 2010, C-236/08 (Google)

Article 14 of Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (‘Directive on electronic commerce’) must be interpreted as meaning that the rule laid down therein applies to an internet referencing service provider in the case where that service provider has not played an active role of such a kind as to give it knowledge of, or control over, the data stored. If it has not played such a role, that service provider cannot be held liable for the data which it has stored at the request of an advertiser, unless, having obtained knowledge of the unlawful nature of those data or of that advertiser’s activities, it failed to act expeditiously to remove or to disable access to the data concerned.

Order of 19 Feb 2009, C-557/07 (LSG)

1. Community law – in particular, Article 8(3) of Directive 2004/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the enforcement of intellectual property rights, read in conjunction with Article 15(1) of Directive 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector (Directive on privacy and electronic communications) – does not preclude Member States from imposing an obligation to disclose to private third parties personal data relating to Internet traffic in order to enable them to bring civil proceedings for copyright infringements. Community law nevertheless requires Member States to ensure that, when transposing into national law Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (‘Directive on electronic commerce’), Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, and Directives 2002/58 and 2004/48, they rely on an interpretation of those directives which allows a fair balance to be struck between the various fundamental rights involved. Moreover, when applying the measures transposing those directives, the authorities and courts of Member States must not only interpret their national law in a manner consistent with those directives but must also make sure that they do not rely on an interpretation of those directives which would conflict with those fundamental rights or with the other general principles of Community law, such as the principle of proportionality.
2. Access providers which merely provide users with Internet access, without offering other services such as email, FTP or file‑sharing services or exercising any control, whether de iure or de facto, over the services which users make use of, must be regarded as ‘intermediaries’ within the meaning of Article 8(3) of Directive 2001/29.

Judgment of 16 Oct 2008, C-298/07 (DIV)

Article 5(1)(c) of Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the internal market (‘Directive on electronic commerce’) must be interpreted as meaning that a service provider is required to supply to recipients of the service, before the conclusion of a contract with them, in addition to its electronic mail address, other information which allows the service provider to be contacted rapidly and communicated with in a direct and effective manner. That information does not necessarily have to be a telephone number. That information may be in the form of an electronic enquiry template through which the recipients of the service can contact the service provider via the internet, to whom the service provider replies by electronic mail except in situations where a recipient of the service, who, after contacting the service provider electronically, finds himself without access to the electronic network, requests the latter to provide access to another, non-electronic, means of communication.

Judgment of 29 Jan 2008, C-275/06 (Promusicae)

Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (‘Directive on electronic commerce’), Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, Directive 2004/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the enforcement of intellectual property rights, and Directive 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector (Directive on privacy and electronic communications) do not require the Member States to lay down, in a situation such as that in the main proceedings, an obligation to communicate personal data in order to ensure effective protection of copyright in the context of civil proceedings. However, Community law requires that, when transposing those directives, the Member States take care to rely on an interpretation of them which allows a fair balance to be struck between the various fundamental rights protected by the Community legal order. Further, when implementing the measures transposing those directives, the authorities and courts of the Member States must not only interpret their national law in a manner consistent with those directives but also make sure that they do not rely on an interpretation of them which would be in conflict with those fundamental rights or with the other general principles of Community law, such as the principle of proportionality.


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