Porn Films Don’t Get Copyright Protection in Germany, Court Rules

Copyright troll Malibu Media has suffered a setback with their plans to extract cash settlements from file-sharers in Germany. After trying to get the ball rolling with some of their X-Art movies, the U.S.-based company was handed a surprise ruling by the District Court of Munich. The Court declared that due to their "primitive depiction of sexual activities", Malibu's adult movies do not deserve protection under Germany's Copyright Act.

So-called copyright-trolling in the file-sharing space was an activity pioneered in Germany around eight years ago.

Ever since, many hundreds of thousands of Internet users there have been plagued by threats from rightsholders of almost every kind of media, with many settling for amounts up to 1,200 euros a shot.

As we know, these pay-up-or-else schemes also spread to the UK and then to the United States, proving particularly popular with porn companies out to prop up their failing business models. One such outfit, Malibu Media, has filed dozens of lawsuits in the United States and recently made efforts to export their project back to Germany. It didn’t go well.

Last year, Malibu issued complaints in Germany that Internet subscribers had illegally shared eight of their X-Art movies including “Flexible Beauty” and “Young passion”. As a result the company wanted to obtain the identities of Internet subscribers behind the IP addresses it held on file in order to extract settlements from them.

However, as outlined in a recently published ruling by the District Court of Munich, the complaints proved problematic.

Firstly, Malibu claimed to be the creator of the movies but the District Court said that the company’s name was nowhere to be found on the videos in question, only references to the X-Art brand. As a result Malibu were unable to convince the Court that they held the rights.

Next there was the issue of distribution. Although Malibu claimed that the movies had been released worldwide, it failed to demonstrate that they had either been released locally on DVD or via an online platform. On that basis the District Court found that the works had never been released in Germany and were therefore ineligible for protection under the Copyright Act.

Finally, the District Court said that the actual content of the videos raised issues under Germany’s Copyright Act. The Court noted that the videos showed “only sexual processes in a primitive way” and are therefore classified as “pure pornography.” As such, the productions are not a “personal intellectual creation” and are not entitled to protection under Germany’s Copyright Act.

The District Court’s ruling is definitely a setback for Malibu in Germany but it should be noted they have been extremely persistent in the United States following earlier problems. They’ll probably be back after some fine-tunes, there’s simply too much money at stake to give up now.

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