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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“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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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

… 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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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

Copyright Protection for Websites Using Typo3

Every now and then the question arises in court if websites are protected under copyright law. Website technology is progressing and so time and again new aspects have to be considered by the courts. Recently, the Higher Regional Court of Hamburg ruled on a case of alleged plagiarism of a website that was based on the Open Source Content Management System “Typo 3” (OLG Hamburg, decision of February 29, 2012, ref. 5 U 10/10). 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

E-Commerce Law Reports with our article on Oracle v. UsedSoft

As a blogger you are always happy to receive feedback from your readers. So I was really pleased when shortly after posting my recent comments about the CJEU’s UsedSoft decision, the E-Commerce Law Reports approached me to ask whether I could write a more detailed article about the case for their August 2012 issue. Recently published, this issue also contains a number of other fascinating contributions by colleagues from around the world on a variety of important topics such as the online collection of consumer data, search engines’ liability for misleading search results, the cloning of games, advertising on Twitter, etc. Check it out: http://www.e-comlaw.com/e-commerce-law-reports/

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

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

YouTube v. GEMA Decision by Hamburg District Court

After having uploaded quite some posts about how liability for third party Internet content works in German law, and having done so in rather abstract terms (in part, admittedly, for shying away from translating dozens of pages of court decisions) here is a good example of how it works in practice. A colleague from Italy has thankfully posted an English translation of the YouTube v. GEMA decision of the Hamburg District Court of April 20, 2012 on his blog. Continue reading

Who May Photograph Your Cow?

Imagine, you own a cow. Someone comes to your farm, takes a photo of your cow, leaves, and a few weeks later you find this photo on some commercial website. Can you do anything against it? Do you have an exclusive right to make and distribute photos of your cow? The Local Court of Cologne decided on this situation two years ago and said: No, taking photographs of someone’s cow does not infringe on any exclusive rights of the cow’s owner, and a photographer may publish photos taken of this cow.

I mention this because a three-week old decision by the District Court of Berlin (Landgericht Berlin) I just read reminded me of this curious case. However, it seems that (absurdly) the Berlin court would have ruled in favor of the cow’s owner. Let’s take a look: 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

More on exhaustion

Just after finishing our recent post on the exhaustion doctrine (ECJ “Usedsoft”), I came across two other news reports touching upon the same issues. The first concerned an ongoing dispute between Microsoft and a German used license trading company . The second pointed to an (unintentionally comical) decision of the Higher Regional Court of Stuttgart (Oberlandesgericht Stuttgart). Continue reading

Let’s draw a legal picture of framing: may a frame provider be held liable for a copyright infringement?

Framing is a convenient tool for journalists and readers alike. Putting a frame around a wide variety of content makes life easier for many jobs, passions and commercial interests. However, does framing provide any legal pitfalls?

Let’s first draw a picture of framing: What’s framing exactly? Other than setting an ordinary link to content of a third party’s website, in the case of framing the content is integrated via a link (“embedded” – e.g. as an iframe – or “inline link”) onto the very website which is called up. Via this link the third party’s content is displayed without any further click and without change of the URL in the browsers address bar in a so called frame of the same screen window whilst being stored on the third party’s server.

And legally? May a frame provider be held liable for a copright infringement? He may, but not necessarily: The Cologne Court of Appeal (Oberlandesgericht) recently held that a frame provider embedding content in the way described above does not commit a copyright infringement. Continue reading