It's always dangerous to rely on newspaper reports of legal cases, especially from France - but this is a reputable reporter with the very reputable IHT and it's great to have good news at this time of year.
It seems that a P2P infringement enforcement effort was blocked because the rights holder illegally breached French privacy laws to get the victim's identity by going behind the user's IP address.
This - apparantely - is a major "non, non" en France, which has tough EU directed privacy laws.
Moreover, a French government lawyer is suggesting that the rights owners could be liable for big trouble:
"The rights-holders should now understand that they cannot set up a system to identify downloaders on the Internet without proper authorization from us," said Moulin, whose organization has the ability to grant such permission. "It is important to have these protections established by a court."
Invasion of privacy carries fines of up to €300,000, or $395,000, and five years in prison, Moulin added.
Mais, oui! C'est déja vu all over again, encore une fois. This all sounds sweetly familiar. First, Canada, then the Netherlands and now France are standing up for privacy rights in these attempted invasion situations and Courts are backing up the rights of individuals not to have their privacy rights fundamentally breached without adequate evidence and sufficient oversight in the pursuit of penalizing common place activity that may actually be benefiting record companies.
When this happened in Canada in 2004 in the BMG case, in which I was very involved, Judge von Finckenstein was severely and wrongly criticized and Canada was labelled a "digital Sunni Triangle" by a reporter with the appropriately fitting surname of Bray at the Boston Globe.
It is seems now that Canada is in increasingly refined and enlightened company - and history may applaud us for leading the way.