Tue, Jul. 17, 2012

Cloud Removed from German Cloud Services

.   The outlook for cloud services in Germany improved with the July 12, 2012 decision by the German Supreme Court in Civil Matters, Bundesgerichtshof, in Karlsruhe when it ruled in favor of a file hosting service on the issue of contributory liability for copyright violations.

The plaintiff, Atari Europe, sued cloud service operator Rapidshare after the defendant had received notice of an infringing Atari work, Alone in the Dark, offered on the service for public, unauthorized download. Rapidshare had removed the work, but Atari soon identified other copies of the work when various third-party links pointed to Rapidshare's hosting servers.

The court determined that the defendant was not an infringer. Based on a case-law theory of contribution rooted in property law, the court found, however, that Rapidshare may have a duty to use reasonable means to prevent copyright violations of which it had been made aware. Such reasonable means may include scanning its offerings as well as well-known link farms that attract copyright violators. The lower court will need to reexamine the facts to assess Rapidshare's potential liability.

The ruling, docket number I ZR 18/11, has not yet been published in written form but the court issued a detailed press release. The decision relieves cloud services from liability for contributory or accessory copyright violations and imposes notification duties on copyright owners while providing cloud services with guidance on reasonable action to protect their immunity.

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