Federal Supreme Court: Can a foreign company use a .de-domain?

In the case laid before the Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof; BGH) the court primarily had to decide about the liability of the administrative contact of the domain dlg.de. However, in the obiter dictum, the court also held under which circumstances a foreign company is entitled to use a .de-domain. Continue reading

Leading Decision on Parents’ Liability for Copyright Violation by File Sharing Children

The German Federal Court of Justice yesterday November 15, 2012 decided on how far parents can be held liable for their children’s illegal use of file sharing via peer-to-peer services and copyright violations resulting from that use. Continue reading

How to Sue and Prove that You Have no Basis for Your Claim, or: The Curious Effects of Patent Exhaustion

My colleague Till Jaeger drew my attention to a recent decision of the German Federal Court of Justice (X ZR 33/10) that demonstrates in a rather curious way the effects of patent exhaustion.

In the case at issue the plaintiff was the holder of a process patent for the coding, transfer and decoding of video signals used when producing and playing of DVDs under the MPEG 2 standard. The defendant, a Greek DVD producer had no business relationship with the plaintiff, in particular no license agreement with the plaintiff was in effect. However, the plaintiff suspected that the defendant made use of its patent and decided to test the defendant’s abidance by the law. Continue reading

Disclosure Obligations for Access Providers or “What exactly needs to be commercial?”

In order to pursue copyright infringements, rightholders need the names and addresses of the infringers. This creates special problems in file sharing cases where the identity of those who illegally use file sharing systems needs to be found out by checking who’s behind a specific IP address. Detecting copyright infringements and collecting the IP addresses of the responsible persons are just the first steps to this end. But then, the rightholders have no choice but to ask the respective ISP to hand out the data it has about the IP addresses discovered. ISPs for their part need to protect their customers and their business and have to comply with strict statutory data protection provisions. Thus, ISPs and copyright holders are in a permanent conflict of interests. Continue reading

German Federal Supreme Court on file hoster responsibility for third party content – “Rapidshare”

The German Federal Supreme Court (BGH) delivered yesterday a decision on file hosters‘ duties regarding copyright infringements committed by their users (more on the general topic of the responsibility for third party content here and here). The written opinion is not published yet, but here is a short summary of the German press release. Continue reading

Liability for Third Party (Internet) Content under German Law

One of the core problems of German Internet law today is the question of whether, and, if yes, under which conditions, Internet providers of all kinds can be held liable for content published by their users (or embedded by them). The issue arises for content communities (think YouTube), Internet forums, blogs (thing embedded content and user comments), wikis, social networking sites (you know who), but poses the same questions for “generic” host providers or sharehosters (I hardly dare write the word). Continue reading

Proposal for a New Neighboring Right for Press Publishers

The German Federal Ministry of Justice has published the long-awaited proposal for the implementation of a new neighboring right for press publishers. According to the reason given for the draft, press publishers will be granted the neighboring right in order to ease their lives in our digital times (by way of making sure that they receive a compensation for the specific work that they do).

For more than three years, press publishers have lobbied for a new IPR as a prerequisite to maintain quality journalism in the digital age. As was to be expected, the request has been quite heavily criticized by renowned scholars, the German industry and interest groups like IGEL (initiative against a neighboring right for press publishers) – with quite a notable list of supporters. The most notable opponent of such a new right (and main target of the press publishers) is Google, aka the usual suspect.

From the point of view of the press publishers who want and need to be able to gain noteworthy profits from their online press publications, Google’s business model unjustly exploits their content and publications. News aggregators like Google News are said to be a prime example of the internet age’s free riding business models massively harming the press publishers as advertising budgets are not spent where the content comes from. On the other hand, a neighboring right that will protect an individual sentence or a few words taken from an article would obviously be substantially cutting into freedoms that most Internet users have become accustomed to. Continue reading

No liability for third party content embedded via RSS-feed unless made aware of infringement

With judgment dated 27 March 2012 the German Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof, BGH) held that the provider of an information portal who puts news online that may easily be detected as third party content – in this case: RSS-feeds – is  generally not required to check the articles with regard to potential rights infringements prior to publishing them.

Once the provider of an information portal has been made aware of an infringement of the personality right by the person affected the provider may be held liable to prevent such infringements in the future.

The reasons of the BGH’s decision dated are now available in German.  Continue reading

ECJ Advocate General on Used Software and Used Licenses

Is it legal to sell so-called “used software” when this software has been obtained via download? And what about “used licenses”? These questions have been a hot topic for quite some time now for IT businesses and lawyers – and finally they have been brought to the attention of the European Court of Justice. This week, the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), Mr. Yves Bot, published an opinion dealing with some of the intricate problems of the exhaustion (or “first sale”) doctrine. Continue reading