Freedom of expression or copyright?

In the decision of 13 March 2013, the European Court of Human Rights has rejected the appeal filed by the founders of “The Pirate Bay”, condemned for allowing the transmission of pirated material through their famous file sharing website.

The applicants claimed the right of freedom of expression.

Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights provides that:

«1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article Shall not prevent States from Requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises. 2. The exercise of These freedoms, since it carries with it duties and Responsibilities, may be subject to longer available formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are Necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for Preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for Maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.»

The Court, referring to the second paragraph, ruled that in this case the restrictive measures adopted by national legislation to prevent the copyright infringement are legal and compatible to the nature of the material and the medium used.

Therefore, in the balancing of two interests, on the one hand the freedom of expression on the other the protection of copyright, the latter prevailed.

The decision states:

“In conclusion, having regard to all the Circumstances of the present case, in Particular the nature of the information contained in the shared material and the weighty Reasons for the interference with the applicants’ freedom of expression, the Court finds That the interference was” Necessary in a democratic society “within the meaning of Article 10 § 2 of the Convention.”