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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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  • Oh Dear. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 12, 2013 @02:33AM (#45668219)

    I'd better cross Germany off the list countries to live in.

  • Bahahahahaha (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 12, 2013 @02:35AM (#45668225)

    It should tell you something when a business decides that 10,000 of its consumers are criminals. Your business model is broken, you can sue all you like but it still wont fix what's really broken.

  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @02:44AM (#45668269) Homepage

    It's much harder to shame a pornsite into paying €2.500.000 damages than it is to shame 10.000 people into paying €250.
    I don't know about Germany, but it some european countries, just downloading something isn't illegal.
    But a court case doesn't have to have merit if the damage they can do (publically shaming somebody by exposing their sexual tastes) and lawyer fees required to defend are much greater than the $250 blackmail money asked for.

    Personally, I'm wondering how this law firm got the contact addresses.

  • Re:Bahahahahaha (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dr Max (1696200) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @03:50AM (#45668461)
    It should tell you something when mearly going to a website and viewing something can make you a criminal. It's not like torrenting where you can argue that by downloading, you're also uploading to others; they just went to a site and pressed play. If a music station forgot to pay for a songs royalty, would the record label be able to sue anyone listening to that station at the time? What if a billboard had an unauthorised copyrighted image on it, is every motorist going past it going to get a letter and a fine?
  • by Kickasso (210195) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @03:51AM (#45668467)

    Use an ad blocker, kids.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@world3AAA.net minus threevowels> on Thursday December 12, 2013 @03:59AM (#45668493) Homepage

    Isn't deliberately misleading the court itself an offense?

  • Re:Oh Germany (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hweimer (709734) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @05:11AM (#45668693) Homepage

    In Germany, a lawyer sending a cease-and-desist letter can ask to get paid for his services from the recipient of the letter. However, the fees associated with this (making up most of the €250 in this case) are essentially lump sums set by law that are unrelated to the acutal amount of time spent for each case. If a lawyer sends out thousands of letters, this means huge profits, which are often shared with the rightsholder through illegal kickback schemes.

    This is a well-known problem, but most lawmakers (who were often legal professionals before), prosecutors, and judges see copyright violations as the bigger issue so they tend to welcome this process as a private-sector law enforcement despite the fraud that is usually associated with it.

  • Re:Oh Germany (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 12, 2013 @05:43AM (#45668779)

    The Obrigkeit is responsible for creating, maintaining, and encouraging a culture of conformity, because what the German Obrigkeit has always feared is people who question and challenge it. They figured out that the best way to control a population is to have it police itself, whether it's through Stasi informants or an army of lawyers that act as police, judge, and executioner in one. And instead of rebelling, Germans obey, as they have always done (although there seems to be some slow change in attitudes).

  • Re:Oh Dear. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by somersault (912633) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @06:29AM (#45668949) Homepage Journal

    Out of morbid curiosity - who uploaded the content, and why isn't the law firm chasing that guy?

    There's a possibility that the porn company uploaded it themselves, just so that they could execute this plan.

    Th **AA have been caught doing similar things, so it's not unprecedented.

    Of course it's very possible that a normal user uploaded them too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 12, 2013 @06:56AM (#45669055)

    Nope. If you want your favorite free legal sites to shutdown, don't be a dickbag by blocking the ads.

    On the other hand if you're doing something illegal, why the hell not be more of a dickback and block the ads too.

  • Re:Oh Dear. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gl4ss (559668) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @07:40AM (#45669193) Homepage Journal

    "I feel no pity for the people who stream porn though, just what exactly did you think would happen if you weren't buying the videos?"

    nothing? the people doing the infringing were the uploaders and the site.

    how many people have been prosecuted for watching tv content on youtube? nobody.

    but where did they get the list of viewers? from redtube? hacked someone? ???

  • Re:Oh Dear. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 12, 2013 @10:09AM (#45669915)

    "I feel no pity for the people who stream porn though, just what exactly did you think would happen if you weren't buying the videos?"

    nothing?

    how many people have been prosecuted for watching tv content on youtube? nobody.

    I agree with you. The poster you are responding to falls into the trap: "I don't like it, so I'm OK with them being hit with a stick". As you mention, change the title from a porn show to Family Guy episode (which are all over YouTube) and a million Americans searching for "Brian dies" on YouTube. Every one of those millions of people owe Fox $300, right? How would the poster feel now? How does he know any video on YouTube isn't copyrighted by someone who can hire a lawyer? Music video, TV show clips, a little indy show from another website?

    The previous poster needs to work on their ability to abstract a concept from their own biases.

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