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"Anonymous" File-Sharing Darknet Ruled Illegal By German Court 285

Posted by timothy
from the your-virtual-papers-please dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A court in Hamburg, Germany, has granted an injunction against a user of the anonymous and encrypted file-sharing network RetroShare. RetroShare users exchange data through encrypted transfers and the network setup ensures that the true sender of the file is always obfuscated. The court, however, has now ruled that RetroShare users who act as an exit node are liable for the encrypted traffic that's sent by others."
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"Anonymous" File-Sharing Darknet Ruled Illegal By German Court

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  • What's next? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hentes (2461350) on Friday November 23, 2012 @09:13PM (#42078547)

    Germany declares Tor illegal?

  • by Sique (173459) on Friday November 23, 2012 @09:28PM (#42078629) Homepage
    ... This is no legal precedent, as in German law, there is no precedent. Another court can rule completely differently, and Hamburg has some fame for ruling quite strongly in favor of big media conglomerates and contrary to the interest of the internet users. Only if the highest court in Germany, either the Bundesgerichtshof (Federal High Court) or the Bundesverfassungsgericht (Federal Constitutional Court) rule, it sets legal precedent.
  • by gtirloni (1531285) on Friday November 23, 2012 @09:58PM (#42078833)
    On the contrary, someone please make sure these people hear about it. Only then will the nonsense stop.
  • by westlake (615356) on Friday November 23, 2012 @10:09PM (#42078875)

    That's because an IP address is not a human being when it comes to matters of law.

    The decisions of a US district court can't be expected to carry much weight in Germany.

    On 12 May 2010, the Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Supreme Court - BGH) granted an injunction to a music rights marketing company against the private operator of a WLAN under contributory negligence rules.

    The BGH agreed that the plaintiff had no civil law entitlement to damages for breach of copyright by the defendant, either as perpetrator or participant, since it had not been proved that the defendant had shared the music himself or deliberately helped a third party to do so. There was every reason to assume that the person to whom an IP address had been allocated would be responsible for an infringement committed from that address. However, in this case, this assumption had been credibly refuted by the defendant's claim that he had been on holiday when the offence was committed. Neither had he intentionally participated in an infringement by a third party.

    However, under contributory negligence rules, the BGH found the WLAN owner liable for failing to prevent a protected work from being made available to the public (Art. 19a of the Urheberrechtsgesetz - Copyright Act). By operating a WLAN that was not sufficiently secure, the defendant had wilfully and, with sufficient causality, contributed to this infringement and failed to meet his duty of due diligence in this respect. Even private individuals - if only in their own interest to protect their data - could be expected to verify whether their WLAN was sufficiently secure to prevent its misuse by third parties standing outside.

    BGH Finds WLAN Operator Liable [coe.int]

    [2010]

    TorrentFreak, to, to its credit, posted this link as an Update to its original story.

  • Need to know (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tom (822) on Friday November 23, 2012 @11:05PM (#42079141) Homepage Journal

    Two things you need to know:

    One, this particular court (and I know it well, this is my home city) is being ridiculed throughout Germany and its judgement are routinely reversed by the higher courts. It does cause trouble, but it is an outlier, not the norm.

    And that is important because Germany follows the CIVIL law system, not the common law system - courts do not set precedents, other courts will interpret the law, not whatever some court elsewhere decided. And the so-called "flying court", a system where you can choose which court to sue in if you can reason why the case falls into its jurisdiction - easy for Internet-related cases to do - has been dramatically culled back this year, with more and more courts not accepting the easy arguments anymore.

    So, in essence, this is one court well-known for being crazy. Still unfortunate, but not half as consequential as the summary makes you believe.

  • liability (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 23, 2012 @11:23PM (#42079241)

    That German ruling was inconsistent with the US ruling that ISP's are not responsible for user content.

  • by dissy (172727) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @12:43AM (#42079635)

    But darknets aren't illegal in the US anyway. We are talking about Germany here.

  • by maxwell demon (590494) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @01:10AM (#42079751) Journal

    Yes, it is. In the older times, moderation was a two-step process: First you chose the moderation, then you pressed a button to submit it. That way, when you mis-clicked (and honestly, it happens to everyone from time to time), you could correct your mistake before submitting the moderation. Now moderation goes into effect immediately when you click. No chance to fix mistakes.

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