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Porn pirates set to be outed by lawyers
Photo: DPA

Porn pirates set to be outed by lawyers

Published: 21 Aug 2012 12:44 GMT+02:00
Updated: 21 Aug 2012 12:44 GMT+02:00

A German law firm is threatening to publish a list of internet connections it is accusing of breaching pornography copyright in order to advertise its services – and will start with those in police stations and church rectories.

Using the driest possible legalese, the Urmann and Colleagues (U+C) firm announced on its website on Tuesday that from September 1, visitors to their site would find a list of people who had been involved in disputes over illegal porn internet downloads.

The firm, based in the southern German town of Regensburg, is one of the country's biggest copyright law firms and represents a number of pornographers.

The new statement suggests it is poised to go after people who pirate pornography, by sending out thousands of cease-and-desist notices and compensation demands.

"As legal representative of its clients, the firm U+C warns owners of internet connections who have violated copyright," the firm said in a statement to Der Spiegel magazine. "These clients include companies from the pornography industry who believe their copyright has been violated."

Specifically, this means file-sharing, or as U+C puts it, "the unauthorized downloading of copyright-protected works combined with the simultaneous offering of that work by opening one's hard drive to other internet users."

In 2007 the German Constitutional Court ruled that it was legal for law firms to publish the names of potential opponents to advertise their services - though in the case the court considered this was meant for companies rather than private individuals.

But other legal experts have questioned whether publishing personal details of suspected file-sharers would be legal.

The weekly Wochenblatt newspaper said U+C had the names of 150,000 people on its files who have been sent warnings for breach of copyright. But the paper also says that "touchy cases" will be published first. The paper says that church rectories, police stations, and the embassies of Arab countries protected by diplomatic immunity could be on the list.

The U+C has refused to talk about which or how many internet users it intends to “out”.

The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:02 August 21, 2012 by Snapply
I don't know why germans like to believe that they respect information privacy when we constantly see things like this happen. Internet freedom and anonymity is on par with China sometimes :s
17:03 August 21, 2012 by Englishted
I agree snappy German is the most backward and interfering country in Europe as far as internet freedom is concerned ,the reason is because the law is being dictated by very greedy lawyers as above.

I just am waiting for somebody to illegally download a German song while sitting in a Mac Donalds because under German law it would be their fault for not protecting their internet connection .

Did anyone else see the magic word "suspected" because at the moment you are guilty until you can 100% prove you are innocent .

But please if something has changed and I'm not up to speed do tell I will not be offended.
19:50 August 21, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
From the country that gave us the SS and Stasi this is to be expected. Don't take any notice of Germany's privacy laws. They are but an illusion. The only reason the German government wanted to ban Google Streetview is because they didn't think of it first.
07:51 August 22, 2012 by wood artist
As the owner of some copyrighted material, I can appreciate the issues presented here. However, I do find the rules in Germany a bit erratic.

For example, I uploaded a video to Youtube. It consists of music that I composed, played back through my own midi connection, with video that consists of the words to the aria. The title includes all that information. GEMA blocked it in Germany, saying it possibly (likely) infringed on a copyright. When I challenged them to explain who, other than me, could possibly hold a copyright on music that I wrote, they said they didn't really know. I guess I should be happy they bothered to respond, but they've never lifted the restriction. Oddly, it's the one aria in the whole opera that has words in English. Go figure.

wa
09:54 August 22, 2012 by Legal E
And I suspect, they (Lawfirm or clients) would actively place torrents with tracking scripts on the net to entrap downloaders. Then, they would put out an aggressive cease and desist letter. I have seen this myself, with a script that logs your PC data and sends all information back which would breach the wire tap laws (as they will have no wire tap warrant).

Simple method is to install an IP blocker and also surf behind a proxy. But the business case is to go after the people who do not install these security breaches. Also it is a civil case, I would find it difficult if they go after them in court, and the data they obtained on your pc without a warrant would be inadmissible.
09:56 August 22, 2012 by Snapply
With GEMA you have to prove them wrong, which is a completely backwards idea of justice and law.
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