Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court recently ruled that the parents of a teen who had illegally shared more than 1,100 songs on the internet cannot be held responsible and are not required to monitor or restrict their son’s future on-line activities. The court’s ruling diverges from German protocol, which is hard on internet piracy. Legislation in Germany almost always holds those with ISP accounts responsible for activities on their IP address, BitTorrent reports. In 2007, the rights holders to 1,100-plus songs, illegitimately shared on the computer of a 13-year-old, sued his parents, alleging inadequate supervision. A lower court agreed and awarded damages for copyright infringement; that ruling was upheld on appeal. But the federal court overturned the appellate decision, saying the parents had fulfilled their obligations by giving their teen a “basic do’s and don’ts” lecture about his computer, including warnings against sharing copyrighted material on the internet. The high court further ruled it would be necessary to require parents to monitor or restrict their child’s activity only if there were “reasonable grounds” that the child would engage in illegal on-line activity. And that wasn’t the case here. While this head-scratching case possibly offers a new path for defendants accused of copyright infringement, let’s see if it becomes a precedent affecting others.
In Germany, eine kleine verwirrend gesang
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