Court Slams Music Pirate With Huge Fine – of $41.00

A young man, who as a teenager file-shared two music tracks, has finally discovered his fate. After rightsholders demanded damages of 600 euros ($828) the case dragged through the legal system. After nearly five years a court in Germany has just published its decision. It ruled that the damages demands of the rightsholders were excessive and instead ordered the defendant to pay 30 euros ($41.00) damages.

In 2006, a then 16 year-old German used a file-sharing network to make available two music tracks, “Angel” by “Rammstein” and “Roll Over not” by Marius Müller-Westernhagen. The teenager had used his father’s Internet connection to share the songs.

Rightsholders monitoring the unauthorized sharing mounted a case and demanded 300 euros ($414) per track, a total of 600 euros in damages. Yesterday the Hamburg Regional Court published its final decision.

Firstly, the Court rejected the rightsholders claims against connection owner, the teenager’s father. He neither carried out infringements or authorized them, and had no knowledge of them occurring. Although he was considered responsible for his connection, that did not lead to a liability for damages.

However, the Court did uphold the complaint against the teenager. It was determined that he had violated copyright law and as such was required to pay compensation to the rightsholders. There was, however, disagreement on the amount to be paid.

While the rightsholders had demanded 600 euros in damages, it was for the Court to decide the amount to be paid for what would in effect amount to a fictitious license for the songs.

The Court took several parameters into consideration when arriving at its decision. Notably it was decided that since the tracks were old there would be a limited demand for them. Furthermore, since it could only be proven that the tracks were made available for a short amount of time, few downloads of the tracks would have taken place.

To this end the Court ruled that the defendant should pay damages of just 30 euros ($41.40).

Lawblog.de notes that the decision puts recent damages claims against file-sharers of 1000 euros per song under severe pressure. In the light of this ruling by the Hamburg Regional Court, even brand new hits might only be worth 40 to 80 euros per infringement.

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