Fri, Aug. 17, 2012

Identification of Uploader in German Law

AM - Washington.   The German Supreme Court in Civil Matters in Karlsruhe ruled on August 10, 2012 in favor of copyright owners such as music distributors whose works could be infringed by the unauthorized dissemination on the internet. The decision affects the issue of rightholders' access to user data via IP addresses.

In the matter I ZB 80/11, the Court determined that a statutory claim afforded rightholders under §101(2)(1)(3) of the German Copyright Act for the disclosure of user data does not require an infringement of copyright on a commercial scale. The commercial nature refers only to the statutory definition for the provision of services. This higher threshold of commercial activity does not apply to the identification of others suspected of infringing activity.

Therefore, internet service providers are bound to disclose to rightsholders the names and addresses of their customers from whose accounts persons upload one or more protected works to an internet file-sharing site, regardless of any commercial scale or commercial purpose sought by the uploader. Otherwise, the Court reasoned, rightsholders could not prosecute infringements on the internet while the objective of the copyright statute is to effectively combat violations of rights on the internet.

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