CJEU Declares Illegal Streaming Illegal

When movie piracy shifted from torrent downloads to illegal streaming, it brought a legal debate whether it was actually illegal to watch illegal streaming. We already knew from a 2104 ruling by the CJEU that downloading pirate copies is illegal. But what about streaming? Surely, the operator of the illegal streaming services break the law but perhaps there was a loophole for the viewers. Wishful thinking on the part of pirate consumers: in what must be the most obvious decision this week, month or even year, the Court of Justice of the European Union announced on Wednesday… wait for it… illegal streaming is illegal! Also for the recipient of the stream, that is.

The case in point concerned piracy configured media players – the hardware devices that can access illegal content and bring it straight to the television. The fact that anyone ever believed something like that could be legal says more about the delusions around technology than the law. If you can make a great device like that, you can also make it play by the rules.

Kudos to the CJEU, both for the ruling and the timing: it was delivered on World Intellectual Property Day. Some say technology moves faster than law. But the law catches up.