Earlier this year the General Publishers Group (GAU) discovered that several eBooks belonging to its members were being sold illegally on Google Play.
Using the handle Flamanca Hollanda / Dragonletebooks, a Google Play ‘publisher’ was selling eBooks far below the regular price.
The publishers reached out to local anti-piracy group BREIN, who successfully asked Google to remove the files. However, Google refused to a separate request to identify the account holder.
Citing privacy concerns, Google noted that it would not hand over any data without a court order, which is a common stance for the company. This left BREIN with little other alternative than to take the case to court.
Yesterday a The Hague Court ruled that Google must hand over the personal details tied to the Google Play account as well as the Google account that was used to sign up.
The data includes the IP-address, home address, names, emails and bank account information, even if the person resides outside the European Union.
In its defense, Google had argued that BREIN’s request could violate international privacy laws, if the account holder turns out to be foreign. However, the court noted that it could not be the case that possible international violations prevent Dutch law from being applied.
The court further concluded that in this case the rights of copyright holders outweigh other rights, such as freedom of expression. However, the affected user will be given the opportunity to appeal the handover within two weeks, which the court will then review separately.
The order opens the door for BREIN and Dutch copyright holders to police Google Play and other online services more aggressively.
In the past BREIN has succeeded in obtaining the personal details of torrent site owners from hosting providers and payment providers, often without a direct court order.