Prosecutors in a German state have announced they will refuse to entertain the majority of file-sharing lawsuits in future. It appears that only commercial-scale copyright infringers will be pursued, with those sharing under 3000 music tracks and 200 movies dropping under the prosecution radar.
During the last few years the legal climate in Germany has become more and more weighted against file-sharers, with hundreds of thousands receiving threats of legal action. Based on information gathered by anti-p2p tracking outfits, an offense is reported which the public prosecution service is obliged to investigate due to the fact that copyright infringement is a criminal issue in Germany. The ISP of the alleged infringer would then be forced to hand over the personal details of those accused, who would then be threatened with legal action.
Very often the legal action is not carried out but the threats are used as leverage to get ‘compensation’ from the alleged infringer to hand to the rights holder. It seems that the legal system in German has had enough of this ‘abuse’ of the criminal law system for ‘civil’ monetary gain.
In an interview with Jetzt.de, prosecutors from the Nort-Rhine Westphalia area state that those sharing files for personal, non-commercial uses, will no longer be the target of a lawsuit.
Christian Solmecke, a lawyer working at lawyers Wilde & Beuger and currently defending around 500 file-sharers against the German music industry told TorrentFreak: “That means, that the music industry in Germany has no chance to find out the real address behind an IP-address at the moment,” which is clearly a major obstacle for someone looking to take legal action.
The dividing line between personal file-sharing and commercial file-sharing needs to be defined clearly under the law, and the prosecutors have gone some way in offering this definition. “The guidelines say that no investigation should be done if the damage is lower than 3000 Euros (approx $4,500),” Christian told us. “The guideline says that the damage of trading one song is 1 Euro ($1.50). That means, that you could have 2999 Files on your computer and the prosecutors will not investigate.”
The damages for a movie are being touted at 15 Euros (approx $22.00) each, so presumably anyone sharing less than 200 movies will be considered a non-commercial file-sharer and should avoid prosecution. However, the prosecutor has indicated that those sharing brand new movies still in theater cannot expect to receive the same treatment.
Christian told TorrentFreak: “This decision is very new, we do not know what consequences it will have or if all prosecutors in Germany will follow the new guidelines.” However, the German music industry is clearly unhappy, labeling the decision as “a catastrophe” and refusing to accept it.
Should this decision spread around Germany, P2P tracking outfits such as Logistep AG and the German company Digiprotect will have to look elsewhere to make up their revenue. There are indications that Digiprotect is already branching out into the UK, in a new partnership with everyone’s favorite anti-p2p lawyers, Davenport Lyons.