No more “Stoererhaftung”?

What was for a long time associated with high liability risks and warning letters from lawyers, will now be made easier by the German government: Free wifi-hotspots.  The German government has decided to modify the so called “Stoererhaftung” – the liability of the operator of a wifi-hotspot for any infringements of law committed through the hotspot. However, even though rumor still has it a few days after the presentation of the draft for the new German Teleservices Act, this does not mean that operators of wifi-hotspots now will not be liable for whatever happens through their hotspot. To speak of a complete abolition of “Stoererhaftung” is a bit too much, at least at the moment.

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Add-on Modules under the GPL: “Derivative Works” despite separated distribution

If your add-on modules are dynamically loaded into GPL-licensed software at runtime, you’ll have to license the add-on modules under the GPL’s terms when distributing them along with the GPL-licensed software; it is a clear-cut case of a “derivative work” under the License. The case is less clear, however, if the add-on module is distributed separately from the GPL-licensed software, as may, for example, happen where the recipient has already installed the GPL-licensed software from a different source. Continue reading

“Hyperlink does Not Constitute a Copyright Infringement”

Article 3 (1) of Directive 2001/29/EC on the “harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society” legally communicating copyrighted works to the public depends on the copyright holders authorization.

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Open Source Software, License Compliance and the OpenChain Working Group

So you set up an open source license compliance program in your company. You educate your employees and you make sure you know how they handle open source software. But what about the software, which is supplied to you? Do you know how your supplier handles open source software? Can you trust that they know what they are doing when it comes to open source license compliance? Continue reading

MFM fee recommendations and the license analogy method

Rightholders are entitled to damages when their photographs are used by third parties who have not been granted the necessary rights of use. Under German copyright law, damages are calculated according to the so-called license analogy method. This method assumes a fictitious license agreement upon reasonable conditions between the rightholder and the infringer. The rightholder then receives monetary compensation amounting to the royalties the parties would have reasonably agreed on. Continue reading

ECJ-decision: International jurisdiction in case of copyright infringement on a website

By judgment of 22 January 2015 (C-441/13), the European Court of Justice (ECJ) decided on the interpretation of Art. 5 para 3 of Regulation 44/2001 (Brussels I) on international jurisdiction of courts in a copyright infringement case. According to the ECJ, in case of an alleged infringement of copyrights and rights related to copyright by placing of protected photographs online on a website, the court is competent in the district where this website is accessible in its territorial jurisdiction. But this national court has jurisdiction only to rule on the damage caused in the European Member State within which the court is situated.
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… Until Authorship is Proven

Under German copyright law, injunctive reliefs are subject to the condition of danger of repetition. Such danger is assumed once a copyright infringement occurred, but it is eliminated, if the infringer signs a declaration of discontinuance with a penalty clause (in German “strafbewehrte Unterlassungerklärung”) within the set deadline. The Higher Regional Court of Hamburg (OLG Hamburg, decision of October 16, 2014 – file number: 5 U 39/13) now held that such declaration of discontinuance is insufficient, if it includes a so-called potestative clause, i.e. the declaration is subject to the claimant proving his authorship.

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For bloggers and other content sharers: why framing of third party content does not violate third party copyright

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has stated that framing of content (such as embedding Youtube videos or other content on blogs and other websites via link) does not violate the copyright of the author of the respective content. In particular, such framing is not considered a “making available to the public” according to the European directive on copyright in the Information Society (2001/29/EC) and section 19a of the German Copyright Act (“UrhG”). However, it can be derived from the court ruling that this applies only if the reproduction is not meant for a new audience and does not use a different reproduction technique.

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Copyright Law: The Author’s Right to be Named

According to the district court of Kassel’s decision of June 6th, 2014 (file number: 410 C 3000/13) authors of copyrighted works can exercise their right to decide if and how they want to be named as author of their works through terms and conditions. Continue reading

(More) certainty ahead: liability of commercial operators of open WLAN networks

Commercial WLAN operators will soon be certain about when and in how far they are liable for violations of third party rights by their users. The District Court in Munich (7 O 14719/12) has stayed the proceedings in a pending litigation and has submitted questions to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Inter alia, the court asks the liability privilege regulated in the European e-commerce directive and the German Teleservices Act (“Telemediengesetz” – TMG) is to be interpreted in a way that claims for injunctive relief, damage claims, and claims for the reimbursement of costs for warnings and court proceedings are excluded against the WLAN-operator in general or at least with regard to the first violation of third party rights. According to the respective provisions in the directive and the TMG; access providers are not responsible for the information submitted through their services.

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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

Are WLAN-operators internet access providers?

According to German jurisdiction, WLAN-operators can be held liable for online-infringements on third parties’ rights committed via their connection to the internet. That is, unless the operator duly fulfills his obligation to make sure such infringements cannot and will not be committed via his connection. This also applies to WLANs operated in cafés, bars, hotels and similar places. In all these places, the WLAN operator basically has to check what his customers do online and to oblige them to act according to law. Continue reading

Forfeiting a Contractual Penalty by Continuously Storing a Photograph

On September 12th, 2012 the Higher Regional Court of Karlsruhe – 6 U 58/11 – decided on the question, which actions a debtor has to restrain from after he signed a declaration to cease and desist “using a photograph on the internet”. Continue reading

Update: Cabinet passed Third Proposal for a New Neighboring Right for Press Publishers

In our blog, we have been keeping track of the new neighboring right for press publishers. After staggering in round one and in round two, the amended proposal now knocked out its critics in round three. Did it really? Continue reading

New court ruling on GEMA and Creative Commons licensing

Yesterday I came across a ruling by the Local Court (Amtsgericht) of Frankfurt/Main on the conflict between GEMA (which stands for: Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte, in English: Society for musical performing and mechanical reproduction rights) and Creative Commons licensing. I think it is a good opportunity to briefly explain a tricky little, but important feature of the German system of the collective management of copyrights: the GEMA-Vermutung (GEMA presumption). 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

Update: Second Proposal for a New Neighboring Right for Press Publishers Released

A while ago we reported that the German Federal Ministry of Justice (BMJ, Bundesjustizministerium) published a proposal for the implementation of a new neighboring right for press publishers.

Last Friday, a second draft for implementing such a new neighboring right into the German Copyright Code has been published by the Ministry. Compared to the first draft, the scope of the new neighboring right is far more limited: according to the new draft press publishers will only have a claim for remuneration against search engine companies. Other users like bloggers, companies other than press publishers or law firms would not need to obtain a license from the press publisher if they make available a press product.   Continue reading

New leading cases on the destiny of sub-licenses when the main license is terminated

Are sub-licenses affected when the main license they are derived from ceases to exist? Last week, the German Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof, BGH) issued two decisions dealing with this question and answered with an unequivocal “No”. No written opinion has been published yet (this usually takes a while) so that we have only the official German press release to rely on. But this press release reveals already a few pretty interesting and important things. Continue reading

Liability for the spouse’s or child’s copyright infringement

Under German civil law copyright infringements through filesharing can basically be pursued in two ways. On the one hand, it is obviously possible to pursue claims against the person who actually makes the copyrighted material accessible via internet. This person may be the actual perpetrator of the copyright infringement or  someone who deliberately aids and abets the perpetrator committing the copyright infringement. On the other hand, right holders can also try to catch any person who – without being the actual infringer/ abettor –contributed to someone else’s copyright infringement in any way. The courts have repeatedly found such third parties responsible for copyright infringements (see, for example, Federal Supreme Court aka Bundesgerichtshof aka BGH, decision of 11/03/2004 – 1 ZR 304/01 and decision of 04/19/2007 – I ZR 35/04). Continue reading

The ECJ surprises in Oracle v. UsedSoft

Yesterday, the European Court of Justice handed down its ruling in Oracle v. UsedSoft. The court followed largely the Advocate General’s trail (we reported), but at some – crucial – point, it took a different, rather surprising direction which will have considerable impact on the marketing of software (and maybe other copyright-protected works, too). Continue reading