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Urban Guerrilla & Piracy Surveillance: Accidental Casualties in Fighting Piracy in P2P Networks in Europe

57 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2011 Last revised: 22 Sep 2015

Giancarlo Frosio

Université de Strasbourg - CEIPI; Stanford Law School, CIS

Date Written: January 30, 2010


Copyright law is facing its biggest challenge yet as it has to cope with technological development and an increasingly global information market. The advent of peer-to-peer networks has multiplied the threat to the peaceful enjoyment of copyrights and made any user a potential infringer. Nonetheless, the reaction of the copyright holders that targeted those users has greatly impinged on their fundamental rights, in particular the right to privacy.

This Article examines the tension between copyright and privacy in Europe. In particular, this Article will review the legal framework in which the debate is inserted and the relevant case law at the community level and the national level. The analysis shall specifically focus on the lawfulness of the collection of personal data of users of peer-to-peer networks as a tool to fight piracy.

In order to strike a fair balance between copyright and privacy, many different subject matters, such as data protection law, copyright law and e-commerce law, must be carefully weighted. On top of that, relevant opinions on the issue of fairly balancing copyright and privacy have been expressed by the European Data Protection Working Party and the European Court of Justice. Finally, in light of the difficulties in finding a clear cut answer by applying the EU law principles to the debated issue of file exchange in peer-to-peer systems, we must turn to national courts and authorities to verify the practical implementation of the guidelines issued by the ECJ.

Keywords: Copyright, Privacy, European Union, Europe, Peer-to-Peer, Piracy, Copyright Infringement

Suggested Citation

Frosio, Giancarlo, Urban Guerrilla & Piracy Surveillance: Accidental Casualties in Fighting Piracy in P2P Networks in Europe (January 30, 2010). 37 Rutgers University Computer & Technology Law Journal 1 (2011). Available at SSRN: or

Giancarlo Frosio (Contact Author)

Université de Strasbourg - CEIPI ( email )

11 Rue de Marechal Juin


Stanford Law School, CIS ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

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