The video streaming website was challenged by a German filmmaker, which claimed that two of their films were made available on YouTube and offered to thousands of users.
YouTube had been asked to provide information on the identities of the uploaders, but refused to reveal their email addresses, telephone numbers and IP addresses.
YouTube users must create a user account with Google before uploading any videos, and are required to provide a name, date of birth and email address.
Section 101 of Germany’s copyright act forces platforms that host infringing content to prove the names and addresses of the manufacturers, suppliers and other proprietors of copies or other products, and for the users of the services and of the commercial customers and point of sale for which they were intended.
The Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt ruled that YouTube is obliged to provide the name and address of the manufacturers and suppliers of infringers, including email addresses.
But, it added that, for IP addresses this not the case, saying that, despite the word component ‘address’, the IP address does not have any communication function. It serves solely for identification of the terminal from which a particular web page is accessed.
The case is to be reviewed by the Federal Court of Justice, where a final decision will be made.