The IFPI has welcomed a judgement on intellectual property rights by the European Court of Justice, even though it ruled in favour of a Spanish telecom company's right not to disclose information about illegal file-sharing.

The London-based global record industry trade body says its enforcement campaign against internet piracy will continue unchecked following the ruling in the Promusicae vs. Telefonica case. The Luxembourg-based court found today (Jan. 29) that, while record labels cannot demand that telecom companies hand over the names and addresses of people suspected of illegal file sharing, EU countries could introduce their own rules to oblige ISPs to hand over such personal data.

The court upheld Spanish telecom company Telefonica SA's right to refuse to disclose details that would identify who had used peer-to-peer file-sharing application Kazaa to illegally swap material owned by members of IFPI-affilated Spanish labels body Promusicae. A Spanish court had asked the European court for guidance.

The judgement states that EU privacy law "does not preclude the possibility for the member states of laying down an obligation to disclose personal data in the context of civil proceedings."

"Copyright theft on the internet is the single biggest obstacle to the growth of the music business today," said John Kennedy, IFPI chairman/CEO, in a statement. "The European Court has confirmed the need to have effective tools to tackle piracy."

Kennedy added: "The judgment means that music rights owners can still take actions to enforce their rights, and it has sent out a clear signal that member states have to get the right balance between privacy and enforcement of intellectual property rights and that intellectual property rights can neither be ignored nor neglected."