German Court: Face Fines or Out Your Filesharing Child

There’s been a recent court ruling surrounding filesharing. If a parent refuses to divulge which child is responsible for sharing copyrighted material, then the parents could be liable.

The news comes from Sueddeutsche Zeitung (German) which reported on the recent court ruling.

The report suggests that there are three children in the family. Someone in the family is accused of sharing the album “Loud” by Rihanna. The parents listen to classical music. As such, they are unlikely suspects in this case. That leaves the three children of the family.

The family uses a shared network in the house which is quite common these days. One of the three children in question used the connection to share the album. Unfortunately for the child, that child was caught. Universal Music then sued the owners of the connection. The case then went before a German court.

Supposedly, the parents figured out which one of their children downloaded the copyrighted material. However, they refused to divulge who did it in the case. The question is, what happens at this point? It is established that the parents didn’t do it in the first place.

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) has made a ruling in this case. The court ruled that the parents are not obliged to divulge which one of their children shared the copyrighted material. While that sounds like a win, it comes with a huge caveat: they must themselves pay the fine instead. In this case, that fine is 3,500 euro’s.

The defence lawyer expressed his disappointment over the ruling. This is because parents in Germany now must choose between paying the large fines themselves or basically throwing their own children under the bus. This, of course, can prove to be a very difficult situation for parents.

Regardless, the ruling is seen as a setback for user rights in the country for some. It is now theoretically possible for children to be sued for copyright infringement to the order of thousands of euro’s depending on what the parents decide. Not exactly a good PR position to be in for certain copyright holders.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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