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The Courts Piracy Your Rights Online

Parents Not Liable For Their Son's Illegal Music Sharing, Says German Court 207

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-god-help-them-if-he-illegally-shares-bratwurst dept.
An anonymous reader sends this quote from an IDG News report: "A German couple are not liable for the filesharing activities of their 13-year old son because they told him unauthorized downloading and sharing of copyrighted material was illegal, and they were not aware the boy violated this prohibition, the German Federal Court of Justice ruled on Thursday. ... The ruling of the Federal Court of Justice reversed a ruling of the higher regional court of Cologne, which found the parents were liable for the illegal filesharing because they failed to fulfill their parental supervision. That court said the parents could have installed a firewall on their son's computer as well as a security program that would have made it possible to only allow the child to install software with the consent of his parents. Besides that, the parents could have checked their son's PC once a month, and then the parents would have spotted the Bearshare icon on the computers' desktop, according to the Cologne court. 'The Federal Court overturned the decision of the Appeal Court and dismissed it,' the court said."
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Parents Not Liable For Their Son's Illegal Music Sharing, Says German Court

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  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Friday November 16, 2012 @09:01AM (#42000701)

    how to justify the 13 year old's apparent love of music from the 60s and 70s...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well, they educated them to have a good taste.

    • by jd2112 (1535857)
      While the parents may have failed to teach a proper respect for authority they did apparently pass on superior musical taste. All in all I would call it a win.
      • by tnk1 (899206)

        The 60's and 70's put out a bunch of really shitty music too, so let's not jump to conclusions about their musical taste.

  • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Friday November 16, 2012 @09:04AM (#42000717) Journal

    Bad enough that your teenager might wreck your classic sports car, get busted for trying to buy alcohol or cigarettes, become a sex offender for sexting, cause a pregnancy, or thousands of other delinquent acts. At least if they commit piracy, you're personally off the hook now. Too bad your family isn't. You could disown the kid, I suppose.

    • by Cederic (9623) on Friday November 16, 2012 @09:12AM (#42000769) Journal

      Bad enough that your teenager might wreck your classic sports car

      However, if his friend does it you get a truly great movie.

      Regarding the court decision, it sounds at the headline level to be very sensible. Parental responsibility has to have boundaries, and the parents seem to have taken reasonable steps.

      This should never have reached court in the first place. Revise copyright laws, etc.

      • by fatphil (181876)
        > Parental responsibility has to have boundaries, and the parents seem to have taken reasonable steps.

        Not having actually read TFA, I'm not so sure. Telling someone to do something is good, but is useless if there are no checks to verify that what you say has been followed. So I still think it's negligent - they apparently neglected to follow up on their initial bit of good parenting.
        • by Cederic (9623)

          Kids have to have the space to do bad things from time to time.

          I don't want mindless drones, I want inquisitive experimental people that aren't afraid to try things and have no fear of getting it wrong.

          Enabling transgression of the established order is almost essential to building that mindset.

    • You could disown the kid, I suppose

      If the kid gets fined one kajillion dollars for each song he downloaded, as the RIAA recommends, you'd better...

  • But what if a kid steals, gets into a fight or robs people? Who will be liable?

    • Schools and teachers. Usually parents defer their parenting responsibilities to them nowadays...

    • by fredprado (2569351) on Friday November 16, 2012 @09:23AM (#42000859)
      I don't see why it wouldn't be exactly the same. If the kid robs anything and is caught with whatever he robbed he is forced to give it back and that is about it. If he gets into a fight, he gets into a fight. This happens all the time with a lot of kids if you need a reality check.
      • by Hentes (2461350)

        I know that it happens with a lot of kids because I happened to live in a ghetto area for a few years. When the police got tough on them, parents started training their kids to steal, mug and break in because they couldn't be held liable. If you allow a crime to go unpunished that will be abused.

        • But that happens only in countries that has ghettos or slums.
          Germany has neither.

        • by itsdapead (734413)

          If you allow a crime to go unpunished that will be abused.

          OK, so lets arrest everybody who's ever made a mix tape/CD or ripped a CD to their iPod (may be OK in the US under 'fair use' law, but it is definitely copyright violation here in the UK*, possibly also in Germany where this story comes from). At a ball park estimate that's about 100% of the population (maybe 99%, but the 1% will probably have sung 'Happy Birthday' in a public place so it doesn't make much difference).

          On second thoughts, no, let's not risk the total discredit and collapse of the justice

        • by TheLink (130905)
          Different from this case, since the court established that the parents told their son to NOT do the stuff.

          Whereas if the court decided that the parents somehow influenced the kid to do the stuff whether directly or indirectly the judgement could be very different.

          If you're not one of the very powerful don't expect to get away on a weasel technicality if the judge doesn't think you deserve to. "I didn't tell my son to do it, I wrote a ROT13 message and he happened to stumble upon it, decrypt it and do the ev
        • We are talking about two different things here. One is holding someone (the parents) accountable for something they cannot possibly fully control (their children acts). The other is impunity.

          I do agree that impunity is negative to society, and that the age at which one is held accountable for a crime should depend on the crime and not be homogeneous for all crimes. For example, anyone, no matter the age should be accountable for murder. Fighting with non lethal consequences or grave injuries, on the othe
      • by cpghost (719344)

        If the kid robs anything and is caught with whatever he robbed he is forced to give it back and that is about it.

        If the kid is caught with the only one copy of an MP3 that doesn't exist elsewhere in the world, I guess he will have stolen it and will eventually be forced to give it back.

        • You don't need to preach me that infringing copyright is not theft. You are preaching to the converted here, and nowhere I said it was.
    • by itsdapead (734413)

      But what if a kid steals, gets into a fight or robs people? Who will be liable?

      What's that got to do with this? Those are serious crimes that result in real people being injured or deprived of their hard-earned property. The only "damage" in the case of copyright violation is the slim, hypothetical possibility that, if the kid hadn't been able to get the material, he'd have paid for them and the artists would have got a thousandth of a cent in royalties.

      Wake me up if the kid was running a large-scale illegal download site shipping ripped-off content to sufficient thousands of people

    • Depends on the situation.
      If you can make clear the kid 'knew what it did was bad/evil/a crime' _but_ at the moment where it happened you had no controll over it, then you insurance will pay (not the same as being liable).
      If the kid causes monetary damage and you are not insurrd, you are liable.

      • by Hentes (2461350)

        Child insurance? You Germans think of everything.

      • If you can make clear the kid 'knew what it did was bad/evil/a crime' _but_ at the moment where it happened you had no controll over it, then you insurance will pay (not the same as being liable). If the kid causes monetary damage and you are not insurrd, you are liable.

        Careful. In Germany, where this happened, a child under 7 years is not responsible for anything. If damage happened because you as the parent were negligent, you are liable. If the damage happened without you being negligent, nobody is liable. Like holding your child by the hand, it tears itself lose, runs into the street, causes a pileup. You were not negligent, nobodies fault. If you had no control because these things just happen, not your fault. If you had no control because you were negligent, your fau

        • Thats what I said.
          However your examples are a bit missleading. E.G. you hold the child at your hand and it hits a car with a stick: you are liable!

    • by arth1 (260657) on Friday November 16, 2012 @10:23AM (#42001435) Homepage Journal

      But what if a kid steals, gets into a fight or robs people? Who will be liable?

      Why the presumption that someone has to be liable?
      If a bear cub comes crashing through the woods and breaks into a tent, it's bad. But we don't put the bear or its parents on trial, nor sentence them to pay back the owner.

      I buy insurance to cover the cases where bad things happen and no one is liable. It doesn't cover everything, but if it happens, it helps.

      That said, parents are of course responsible for investing the time and resources in rearing their children as well as they can. If they don't, they're guilty of neglecting their children's upbringing -- a rather serious crime in itself, but unless they teach their children to break the law, they're not guilty of the crimes their children commit.

  • by Zemran (3101) on Friday November 16, 2012 @09:27AM (#42000901) Homepage Journal

    The 13 yr old probably knows more about how to circumvent the measures suggested by the earlier court than the parents know about installing them. It was a stupid ruling and should have been struck down. The only reason for it is that those that are prosecuting know that the parents have money and the boy does not.

    • by tompaulco (629533)
      Yes. 30 years ago, a family that had a computer in the home also had someone who specifically knew how to use it, how to monitor what was going on it, and how to control access to it. Now, thanks to the efforts of Microsoft and other large corporations, computers are ubiquitous. There is one or more than one in nearly every home. More importantly, you don't have to be a computer genius to use them. We as a society think that is A GOOD THING. So how can we on one hand say that we want computers to be so easy
    • A recent visitor of mine reported that at the age of 12 he installed a key logger to get the password that his parents had put on his PC to limit his use of it... He only told his dad recently (he's 19...) The court is clearly right in refusing to hold the parents responsible. It's HARD!
  • Parents do need to take a more active approach to "protecting" or "limiting" there children online. You always hear how a computer is filled with xxx or yyy and the parents had no idea. I think that is BS, if the parents aren't going to take an active stand then they have nothing to complain about. It's not even hard, decent security software is available for low cost and easy setup. It wont prevent the children from breaking the rules but at least if the rules are broken the parents can know they at le
    • by Inda (580031)
      What about the internet enabled phone? PS3? Wii? Toaster?

      And then, forget P2P applications like Bearshare, which I only found out today still exists, and I did some of the early beta testing on it. Forget it because because MP3s can be downloaded from all manner of places. FTP, IM, HTTP, teh browser.

      Bah to it all.
      • by Murdoch5 (1563847)
        Okay well thats a good point but what I was getting at was the fact that parents need to at least try. Most parents I know are so useless on a computer it's a amazing.
  • Firewall? (Score:5, Informative)

    by angel'o'sphere (80593) on Friday November 16, 2012 @09:52AM (#42001127) Homepage Journal

    I don't have access to the first courts ruling.
    But during the higher courts session it became clear: THEY HAD A FIREWALL and had tried to restrict his users rights to install new software.
    Ofc. it is beyond any laymans responsibility to install aditional software to 'guard his children' from illegal activities.
    Even more annoying: the law situation is crystal clear. Nevertheless the 'music company' sued in the hope to get a cheap victory in a lower court from an unexperienced judge.

    • by houghi (78078)

      When I was working, my boss did not want me to surf during working hours. He looked at the PC if things were installed. So at home I downloaded the Internet on a floppy from QNX and used that.

      Big advantages was that I just booted from the floppy, so no installation needed. That was with floppies. Now the boy could easily use a USB stick and run almost any Linux distro. He could even use SUSEstudio.com to make his own that is specialized in running torrents the moment it is booted.

  • Maybe in Germany? In the US as far as I can tell, downloading is nor more illegal than bringing bootleg CDs home that you bought on the street of some third-world country, or bringing home a counterfeit good you bought in China on the street. It's the sharing and uploading that is the apparent illegal part. Not to mention profiting. Is this not true?

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