Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
The Courts Piracy Your Rights Online

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

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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

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

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 16, 2012 @10:03AM (#42000713)

    Well, they educated them to have a good taste.

  • Re:Come on! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ciderbrew ( 1860166 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @10:07AM (#42000737)
    And the child duty is to get around all limitations placed on them by the parents. Or did you do as you were told and have no imagination to do other wise when you were a child (you still may be - I don't know)?
  • Re:Come on! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Krneki ( 1192201 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @10:08AM (#42000747)

    He was just downloading stuff, it's not like he was smoking cigarettes or drinking.


    Piracy for personal use = total worth ignoring

  • Re:Come on! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 16, 2012 @10:09AM (#42000755)

    Parents should take alternate shifts so there's always one awake watching their child at any moment of the day or the night. Having more than one child should be forbidden because then watching them 24 hours a day would be impossible with only 2 parents.

  • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @10:20AM (#42000837) Homepage

    "Age of criminal responsibility"

    Differentiating between crimes isn't done in this fine scale (i.e. at 10 you can murder, but at 15 you can't, etc.) - you're either criminally responsible for your actions or not. The offence only determines the severity of the crime, not your capacity to know better.

    Most countries have this at an age where the child should "know better", i.e. usually around 10 years old. Below that age, you can't be "criminally responsible" for the acts you've committed, because it's unlikely you understood what you were doing or what the impact would be (i.e. a toddler pushing another toddler off a high-rise block of flats while playing).

    What you're confusing is the SEVERITY of the crime, and the capacity to know whether what you're doing is wrong or not. The severity of the crime determines the possible "punishment", the capacity to know what you were doing determines whose fault that was (i.e. parent for leaving you alone, you for not knowing better, etc.)

  • Re:Come on! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @10:24AM (#42000877)

    You watch over your 13 year old every minute of every day? 13 is more than old enough to have a private life and private activities, in fact I would argue that trying to deny them that would have a much worse effect on society than downloading music does. How long does it take to install some peer to peer software and hide it? 20 minutes? Maybe 5 minutes to queue up each song and move it to the device of your choice. Yeah, letting your teenager have 30 minutes on a PC without your supervision should be a criminal offense. Not digging through every file on the family PC should be a criminal offense. Not spying on your children should be a criminal offense. That all makes perfect sense.

  • Re:Come on! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rvw ( 755107 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @10:25AM (#42000885)

    He was just downloading stuff, it's not like he was smoking cigarettes or drinking.


    Piracy for personal use = total worth ignoring

    I totally agree. However, he was not just downloading, he was "sharing", uploading as well. So he stole a pack of gum, and gave a few away. That's the size of this case. Give him a good spanking, and let it go.

    These laws are stupid. How in hell are parents able to tell what a kid is doing on his/her computer? How many parents are able to tell the difference between two icons that don't look like Word or IE? After this ruling, all kids know to delete these icons from their desktop. Or they learn how to change the icon into something else. There is probably an app for that.

  • Re:Come on! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @10:27AM (#42000899)

    Any parent who is truly aware of everything their child is doing should be reported to child services.

    By giving kids no autonomy to learn the world for themselves you're not only potentially stunting their mental growth but potentially also breeding one hell of a rebellion when a child gets to that age.

  • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @11:23AM (#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 dywolf ( 2673597 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @11:40AM (#42001639)

    And of those chirlden serving life without parole, how many are doing it because of file sharing rather than extremely violent crimes such multiple homicide? How many of these "children" are actually 16 17 even 17.9 years old, childen only in the letter of the law, not in physiological or mental development?

    Your back handed attempt at insulting the US is foolish.

  • Re:Come on! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @11:40AM (#42001645)

    Oh please. If this was 25 years ago and involved a kid sharing music via cassette tapes, no one would have batted an eyelash. The only stupid thing is that it gets take to court now because 1 kid among literally millions gets caught and has to be made the scapegoat for the rest of society. Total and utter bullshit.

    GEMA should go fuck itself.

  • by Sesostris III ( 730910 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @11:51AM (#42001779)

    Children serving life without parole, rest of the world combined: 0

    Not quite true. There are also child prisoners in North Korea who are unlikely to be released.

    From []:

    Based on the guilt by association principle (Korean: [some Korean text that Slashdot won't print here], yeonjwaje) they are often imprisoned together with the whole family including children and the elderly.[12] All prisoners are detained until they die and prisoners are never released.[18]

    So no, not just the USA.

    Of course, if you meant the rest of the civilized world, then you'd probably be correct.

  • Re:Come on! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 16, 2012 @12:22PM (#42002179)

    It's pretty disturbing that you got modded up to "Insightful." Disobeying one's parents from time to time is inevitable, but "getting around all limitations" is not a filial "duty." What rubbish.

    What are you a nipple-neck?

    A child's job is to hack reality. A child's three primary goals are to 1) experience, 2) learn, and 3) test boundaries of their current experience/knowledge. Fun and entertainment is an evolutionary benefit to physically/physiologically promote those goals. Like hunger being painful and sex being pleasurable.

    Adulthood is a word for the stage of life when strictly obeying your progenitors is merely one option.

  • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @12:25PM (#42002251) Homepage Journal

    So you'd rather have 2500 psychopathic children free to roam the streets of your town, and potentially grow up to commit more horrible crimes than they have already been convicted of doing?

    The rest of the world appears to manage. And with every other country having a much lower adult prison population too, I can't see the American policy having solved a lot of the problem with adult crimes?

    At the risk of being modded into oblivion I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest you may be a moslem shill. I say this because of the statistically young age of suicide bombers and the high probability they suffer from a severe pathology.

    I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but I'm a white freethinker with no sympathy for absurd nonsense like religion and dogmatism, on either side.

  • Re:Come on! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chihowa ( 366380 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @02:15PM (#42003369)

    Thirteen is old enough to think through things rationally and question social mores. Filesharing is largely a victimless crime and the thread of reasoning for it carrying a punishment is tenuous at best. It's easy to see how a person with a well developed sense of right and wrong can think filesharing isn't wrong.

    Anyway, he was downloading old music, right? Some of it was from artists that are now dead. The bigger stretch is saying that it's wrong to deprive media executives income derived from the works of other dead people. It takes a much more twisted sense of right and wrong to justify eternal (forever minus a day) style of copyright with massive financial or criminal penalties.

  • by xevioso ( 598654 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @03:18PM (#42004247)

    But this is an adult crime:

    "(11-16) 10:57 PST VALLEJO -- A 14-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping, sexually assaulting and attempting to murder a 65-year-old woman in Vallejo, police said Friday.

    The suspect was booked at Solano County Juvenile Hall on allegations of attempted murder, assault, carjacking, armed robbery and kidnapping for ransom.
    Read more: []"

    This was today, near San Francisco.

    This is an adult crime. Talk to the 65 year old woman he raped about "children are to be given special rights and protections according to the UN charter of children's rights".

    Ask her what she thinks about that.

  • by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Friday November 16, 2012 @05:59PM (#42006587) Homepage Journal

    You're clearly applying feelings and not reason to what happened.
    Did the child in question enjoy the rights you and I have, to work, vote or otherwise change his situation? No? Then how is he responsible for actions his situation put him in?
    This is a child. Yes, the acts were heinous. That doesn't mean that the child is beyond our help. Yes, help is what he needs, desperately.
    What good would it do anyone to put him in jail for life? It wouldn't be preventative, cause children don't look at sentence levels before doing things. It wouldn't rehabilitate him. It wouldn't unrape the woman.
    Get this child help now, and stop letting your base feelings for revenge dictate what should be done.

Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.