Germany Passes Law to Mitigate Copyright Trolling ‘Fines’

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Endlessly plagued by copyright trolls in the file-sharing space, Germany has just introduced legislation to mitigate the effects of these and other “dubious” business practices.

Hardly a week goes by without some kind of copyright trolling activity hitting the file-sharing headlines. The news is usually bad, with content companies expanding and becoming ever more ruthless in their pursuit of cash settlements.

This week, though, Germany has sought to reduce the power of some of the more aggressive players with the introduction of a new law tailored to hit “dubious business practices”.

TorrentFreak spoke with attorney Malte Dedden for the low down.

“The new law changes several laws – competition law, copyright law etc. Concerning copyright law, the idea is to protect consumers against cease-and-desist [pay-up-or-else] letters that are too expensive,” Dedden explains.

“If you are caught file-sharing a movie or a music album, you might be asked by the copyright holder’s lawyers to sign an agreement to cease the illegal distribution and to pay a) the lawyers’ fee plus b) the rightsholder’s damages in order to settle the case.”

Dedden says the new law establishes certain a format for the cease-and-desist and any settlements requested.

“If certain requirements are not met, you don’t have to pay the rightsholder’s lawyers’ fees and you can claim your lawyer’s fees from him instead,” he explains.

“If the form is correct, the fees are limited to the amount calculated on a “Streitwert” (value of the matter in dispute) of 1000 euros. This would be about 155.30 Euros plus expenses.”

Dedden says that previously the “Streitwert” was estimated by the court and could climb as high as 10,000 euros.

“Unfortunately for heavy users, this new limitation applies only one time with each copyright owner. If you’re caught by Universal’s lawyers once, for example, the next time it will be more expensive, while you can still use the new rule for your first Sony infringement,” Dedden concludes.

Read More (German)

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