European ISPs cannot be forced to hand over identities of illegally-downloading subscribers in copyright infringement suits, an advocate general for the EU's top court ruled today. Such information could only be procured in criminal, rather than civil, proceedings. The court most often sides with such opinions, though they are not legally binding.
If the court rules in concert with the opinion, it would significantly impede the music industry's ability to acquire personal information about those they claim are engaged in illegal file sharing. However, a proposed amendment to the EU's intellectual property laws would classify some file sharing activity as a criminal offense, sidestepping any ruling by the court.