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.
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
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
Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court has just reminded the Higher Regional Court of Cologne (one of the courts that will hold you liable for just about anything that third parties, i.e. your children, your neighbors, the guests of your hotel etc., might do using your WLAN) that, contrary to what the Cologne Court assumed, not all legal questions have been answered. The Cologne Court had refused a request by the defendant to be granted a second appeal to the Federal Supreme Court because it assumed (for reasons no one can really understand) that the Supreme Court has already decided on the relevant legal issue. Continue reading
As reported by heise, the Senate of Berlin (in its capacity as government of the Federal State of Berlin) will, it has been announced, put forward a motion in the Federal Council of Gemany (the second “half” of the federal parliamentary instutions next to the Bundestag) aiming at rewriting – or actually writing for the fist time – the law on the liability of those who operate WLANs for unlawful acts commited by other people through those WLANs. If successful, the motion could finally put an end to, or at least regulate by democratic means, some of the rather strange views that the German courts have taken over the past ten odd years regarding this particular “problem” of the Internet age. Continue reading