Mother Who Banned File-Sharing Still Held Responsible

A mother who doesn't understand computers and forbade her children from downloading and sharing music on the Internet has been held responsible for their actions. A court in Germany ruled that parents simply banning file-sharing is not enough, and this has to be followed up to check compliance.

Following accusations from record labels that their copyrighted works were being made available via a file-sharing network from a specific IP-address, the companies managed to obtain the identity of the person who paid for the Internet connection in question.

The subscriber, the mother of several young children, was taken to court by four record companies on allegations that around 1000 music tracks had been made available on her connection.

The woman said that although she was the owner of the connection, she had no idea about computers and file-sharing. She denied carrying out any infringements but suggested that one of her children could have been responsible.

The plaintiffs hoped the court would find the defendant liable as “Mitstörer”, which means that although the woman did not directly commit the infringements, it’s possible she could be held responsible for not taking measures to stop them.

The Higher Regional Court of Cologne decided that even though the woman did not carry out the infringements and even forbade the use of file-sharing networks, parents still have a responsibility to monitor the behavior of their children, or take measures to ensure that file-sharing sites are blocked. This considered, the Court ruled in favor of the record companies.

This court case was about recovering the legal costs for bringing the copyright claim, which are calculated based on the value of the alleged infringements. The claim was for 1,000 violations at 50 euros per track (a value set by the court) which comes to a total of 50,000 euros.

According to Aldor Nini who helped with this article, based on the above the women will have to pay 2615 euros (less VAT) to the record companies’ lawyer, 1368 euros to the court, and up to 2,615 (less VAT) to their own lawyer.

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