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Thousands of Germans Threatened With €250 Fines For Streaming Porn 192

Posted by samzenpus
from the paying-the-price dept.
PolygamousRanchKid writes "Thousands of German users that have used a porn website to stream shows have received threatening letters from a local law firm demanding €250 ($344) per certain watched clips, Chip.de reports. Apparently, a Swiss-based firm that owns the content hosted by porn site Redtube has tasked a law firm with collecting fines for each of its shows that was streamed online in the region. The law firm has apparently received a go ahead from a local court, and as many as ten thousand warnings may have been set to users, for porn shows watched in August."
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Thousands of Germans Threatened With €250 Fines For Streaming Porn

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  • by asmkm22 (1902712) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @01:36AM (#45668229)

    Shouldn't the company be going after the porn site that streamed it? Anyone know why a German court would OK this?

  • Oh Germany (Score:5, Informative)

    by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @01:36AM (#45668235) Homepage Journal

    The status of German copyright laws is ridiculous. Any law firm can send out threatening letters, literally saying "pay us X Euros or we will take you to court". It's like the Mob.

  • by bradley13 (1118935) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @01:50AM (#45668285) Homepage

    Three links of possible interest, concerning "The Archive AG" - mostly in German:

    Company information [moneyhouse.ch]

    Article in the Handelszeitung [handelszeitung.ch]

    Web site [the-archive.ch]

    The address appears (on Google maps) to be more than just a mailbox. The two people running it are Germans - it's not clear why their company is in Switzerland. Downloading in Switzerland is legal, by the way, justified by the fact that we all pay these surcharges on empty media.

    For anyone who has been threatened by The Archive AG, the article in the Handelszeitung includes a reference to an IT attorney who is apparently advising many people in this case.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 12, 2013 @01:54AM (#45668293)

    This techdirt article from a couple of years ago [techdirt.com] suggests a precedent was set then that viewing a streaming file is considered to be making a copy of it, and therefore the viewers are also liable for copyright infringement. Stupid, but this is sometimes what happens when old laws are applied to scenarios they weren't intended for and the court doesn't have enough room to manoeuvre out of it. I don't read German well enough to look at the decision and see whether it suggests that the court tried to find a way around a badly phrased law, or if they were just being vindictive, but it seems likely enough that they tried and failed.

  • by righteousness (3421867) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @02:04AM (#45668323)
    Unlike the US and the UK, Germany has a civil law system in contrast to the common law system used in certain countries like the US and the UK. Therefore judges in Germany are not bounded by decision made in former rulings that are not clearly codified in written legislation.
  • by Sique (173459) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @02:12AM (#45668353) Homepage
    It was helped by a gross misrepresentation of facts before the court: Suggesting distribution while never explicitely saying so. For about 1/4 of the letters requesting the court to allow for identification of the persons behind the list of IP addresses, the requests were denied due to missing evidence. 3/4 nevertheless were agreed on, and there is much speculation going on if the court has messed up downloading and distribution, helped by a very wishi-washi formulated letter of request.
  • by fazig (2909523) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @02:17AM (#45668367)
    According to more recent reports (German) [golem.de] the Court was fooled by this alleged law firm. They've presented the incident to the court as peer to peer file-sharing of copyright protected data, the Court ruled accordingly.
  • by mystuff (1088543) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @03:31AM (#45668585)
    This was reported [tweakers.net] on the Dutch site Tweakers as being a hoax, as reported by the layyers office itself here [urmann.com]. Translations here [google.com] and here respectively. [google.com]
  • by xororand (860319) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @04:06AM (#45668677)

    It seems that the law firm got the IP addresses by running ads on RedTube
    There's an ongoing investigation and criminal complaint [golem.de] against the responsible lawyer Daniel Sebastian.

  • Re:They're serious? (Score:4, Informative)

    by gweihir (88907) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @04:56AM (#45668829)

    The courts were tricked: The lawyers made it look like this was about file-sharing, and there the upload part can make you liable for distribution in Germany.
    But there are some other peculiarities, namely how they go the IP addresses. It seems they may have gotten illegally or via fake ads on the site itself. That would then not prove anybody streamed anything. It may also be illegal to state people streamed to a court when there is no proof anybody streamed anything. Almost certainly some employee of some "piracy analysis" company committed perjury.

    Bottom line is that this will hopefully cost the layers involved their accreditation and make them liable for legal cost of the ones targeted. Fees are unfortunately capped and so low that this will not pay off. The total damage is only about $15, the rest is lawyers fees.Incidentally, sending out these "Abmahnungen" en-mass, but claiming full legal fees on each (instead $5 or so) is also illegal, but a court has to determine these are mass-produced. (An "Abmahnung" is basically a form of legalized fraud by threatening people and demanding fees that only lawyers are allowed to commit. One more reason to hate that profession...)

    The consent in the German legal community seems to be that these people got greedy and stupid and will fail. Problem is that if anybody pays, the fees goes directly to Switzerland (instead to the lawyers) and will there fore be hard or impossible to recover, as Switzerland is not part of the EU.

  • Re:Oh Dear. (Score:4, Informative)

    by TangoMargarine (1617195) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @10:56AM (#45671003) Journal

    repeated

    How many times do I have to keep telling people, Germany didn't start Word War 1?! Serbian nationalist assassinates Austrian dude, Austria invades Serbia, Russia starts mobilizing to defend Serbia, and ONLY THEN did Germany get involved.

One possible reason that things aren't going according to plan is that there never was a plan in the first place.

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