The CJEU's power to affect national laws should not be underestimated. The impact of the Court's judgment in the case of ACI Adam BV v Stichting de Thuiskopie illustrates this well: the CJEU's ruling of yesterday morning was followed by a prohibition on illegal downloading in the Netherlands taking immediate effect.
The case was brought by ACI Adam and others, who were importers and manufacturers of blank CDs and CD-Rs on which digital data could be copied. They argued that the amount of private copying levies charged on these blank data carriers in the Netherlands was too high, as it incorrectly took into account the harm suffered by copyright holders as a result of copies made from unlawful sources.
In its judgment, the Court holds that the Dutch law indeed was non-compliant with EU law insofar as it did not distinguish the situation in which the source from which a reproduction for private use is made is lawful from that in which the source is unlawful.
While the Dutch film industry has welcomed the prohibition on illegal downloading that followed the CJEU's ruling, consumer organisations are more sceptical. They emphasise the problems that enforcement of the prohibition may entail, such as infringement of consumers' privacy online. A well-balanced levy system would be the better option, in their opinion (for those of you who read Dutch, background information on the discussion may be found in newspaper articles here and here and here).
Please refer to the Court's press release for a more elaborate summary of the judgment.