Offering Patreon Subs In Euro’s Makes You Liable for GDPR – Court

An appeal court ruled that if you offer a Patreon subscription in Euro’s or Pounds, GDPR applies to you.

A recent court ruling in Europe is raising some eyebrows. A British man filed a lawsuit against a US news outlet. The lawsuit, weirdly enough, involves an accusation of libel against the news organization. It apparently also involved a part of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which is generally more commonly associated with privacy protections. A lower court had ruled that even though the companies Patreon offered subscriptions in euro’s and the British pound, it doesn’t necessarily mean your company has a presence.

The case was appealed and the appeals court overturned that. The court ruling says that by offering subscriptions in euro’s or the British pound, you do have a presence in Europe and can be sued under the GDPR. This despite having no other presence in the region. From the Register:

In the case, between dual citizen Walter Soriano and Forensic News LLC, Lord Justice Warby ruled that the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation applied to Forensic because the company’s Patreon page allowed signups in sterling and euros. The judge said this showed Forensic was “established” inside a country subject to GDPR.

“The offer and acceptance of subscriptions in these local currencies is arguably a ‘real and effective’ activity that is ‘oriented’ towards the UK and EU,” said the appeal judgment [PDF].

Forensic had just three Patreon subscriptions in sterling, whereas some 85 per cent of its $50,000 income over 18 months came through the signups site. At the time of writing, the company’s Patreon page offered basic subs at £4 ($5.36) a month, or £46 ($61.73) a month for well-heeled people wanting to buy a branded hoodie and early access to upcoming stories.

Overturning the lower court’s decision, Lord Justice Warby observed: “The key issue under Article 3(1), as I see it, is whether the creation and use of the Patreon subscription facility demonstrates ‘stable arrangements’.”

“Stable arrangements” in EU data protection law means a business targets the region and processes EU citizens’ personal data, as explained by London law firm Bird and Bird [PDF]. The Court of Appeal held that Forensic offering Patreon subscriptions in sterling and euros was enough to cross the “low bar” for the EU law to apply.

This, of course, represents quite a legal problem. Offering subscriptions in euro’s generally happens by default. If you are located in the US, you probably set your subscription in US dollars. The thing is, for others who have a Patreon account, they set their preference to something that they want to use. For instance, if you are in the European union, you can set your Patreon currency to euro’s. According to a Patreon support page, the currency conversion happens automatically:

1. Audiences who visit your page have your tiers priced in their choice of supported currencies. Patreon converts your tier prices into the audience’s preferred currency. Visit this help article for more information: Patreon’s supported currencies

2. When receiving a pledge in a different currency than your payout currency, Patreon charges you a 2.5% currency conversion fee.

3. Existing patrons who are already paying in your payout currency are not required to change anything at all.

As a result of this system and the judgment, anyone who uses Patreon at all is automatically liable under Europe’s GDPR. This assumes that both nothing changes on Patreon’s side of things or the case is overturned.

It is a very strange ruling that could have very big consequences for anyone who uses Patreon. We’ve contacted Patreon and asked for comment on this matter.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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