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Parents not liable if kids download illegally
Photo: DPA

Parents not liable if kids download illegally

Published: 16 Nov 2012 07:47 GMT+01:00
Updated: 16 Nov 2012 07:47 GMT+01:00

German parents cannot be held responsible for their children illegally downloading and sharing music from the internet - as long as they have told their kids not to do it.

The Federal Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that because a teenager's parents had told him about the illegality of sharing files on the internet, and had expressly made rules that he was not to do it, they could not be held liable if he broke their rules and did it anyway.

The couple from Cologne were fined €3,000 by a regional court because their son had been downloading and spreading music illegally.

But the Supreme Court in Karlsruhe overturned the ruling and the fine.

“In this day and age children have access to a computer, their usage of which cannot constantly be monitored,” Judge Joachim Bornkamm said.

Adults were not, the court said, obliged to monitor their children's internet habits or to install restrictions on household computers. Only when they had already received a warning about illegal activity would this be necessary.

Parents should, he said, teach their offspring that sharing copyright-protected files on the internet is illegal but they should not “have to distrust them from the get-go and presume that they are breaking laws.”

Cologne's regional court told the pair that they had to check their computers regularly for illegal file sharing programmes – a decision the couple's lawyer called unrealistic.

Other lawyers welcomed the ruling. "It is the precedent case that we have been wanting for years,” said Munich-based Bernhard Knies, who went to Karlsruhe especially for the hearing.

“If this decision had been made earlier lots of parents could have been spared their own money,” Knies added.

DPA/The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

10:21 November 16, 2012 by raandy
This can be very expensive if your children (or anyone if your security is lacking)down load a movie on a file sharing site from your IP address.

The internet trolls take the providers to court to obtain your name and mailing address then the law firm sends you a cease and disist letter demanding anywhere from 800 to 2000 euros not to take you to court.

This happened to me when my brother in law stayed at our place while we were away.

The law firmed informed me that it did not matter who did it, only the IP address matters even though I could prove I was out of country. as it was my IP address I was expected to pay or go to court.

I decided not to pay ,and never heard back from the firm ,it has been 2 years now.

I did some checking on the net and found out that Germany has the highest success at prosecuting these downloads, while the US supreme court rulled that an IP address is not a real person and you need further proof of guilt to prosecute.

If you live in Germany beware if you download from any file sharing sites
16:44 November 16, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
Very interesting raandy and makes sense what the US supreme court ruled. However, sense often does not prevail in DE.
08:53 November 17, 2012 by Englishted
Somebody I know downloaded a mp3 album called Top 100 German charts,

from a web share site ,they were then sent letters for every German group on the list demanding money for each single .It amounted to a vast sum ,the download was done by a child under ten but as has been pointed out it made no difference,thousands of euros wasted .

It never went to court (too expensive) and was purely done from lawyer to lawyer ,I doubt if the groups or singers even knew let alone received any money .

This is guilty until proved innocent and even then still fined.

The next ruling will make you prove that you told the child with a note from a solicitor signed in front of witnesses who are not family members etc,etc.

If anybody out there knows the new ruling well ,will it be possible to claim the money back ,if not why not?
12:05 November 17, 2012 by Onlythetruth
If parents are liable for the kids behavior in other ways then they should be responsible for the stuff that their kids do online. Artists rights to their own work are being slowly eroded by technology and idiots like the Pirate Party and streaming services like Spotify. In an age where kids think anything they can get their hands on should be theirs GEMA is one of the few remaining firewalls and hopefully it will find a way to challenge this new court decision.
17:42 November 17, 2012 by Englishted
@Onlythetruth

I get videos sent to me on Facebook by the bands themselves ,click on the link and GEMA block it ,sooner or later the bands will take them on or we will get no new music in Germany ,unless it is a dummed down chart show where idiots talk through the music and or the videos unless they have a "live " bad that are 40 years passed their best before date.

Artists rights don't make me laugh where would Phy be without the internet? he would never of been heard of if GEMA had it's way, censorship under another name.
14:25 November 18, 2012 by chicagolive
@Onlythetruth Either you work for GEMA or know nothing about that mafia group artist get screwed left and right by they con company. Why do you think so many music groups music is not shown here. GEMA makes the RIAA look like princesses, they pretty much try to extort you to make money. Pirating while not cool artist still at least made money because most people who did pirate if they liked what they heard they would go by the music. Streaming is what is killing artist now. Whereas a single would at least be sold for about 3 to 5 bucks. Now a single play on a streaming site a artist gets only $.0004 cents per play with the highest city around .0010 per play. That is getting rape and cheated music is really becoming a industry to not even bother trying and will limit the amount of acts that can go for it.
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