Fri, Nov. 16, 2012

Parents Need not spy on Children

BSS - Washington.   The legal issues arising from sharing of copyright-protected files over the internet pose a constant challenge for the law, and courts have struggled with it for some time. In the context of minors' activities, the German Supreme Court in Civil Matters in Karlsruhe ruled on November 15, 2012 in favor of the parents of a 13 year old boy who in lower court decisions were held responsible for neglecting their duty to supervise the minor and, therefore, held liable for damages to the music industry under §832 of the German Civil Code.

Investigators found file sharing programs called Morpheus and Bearshare on the son's PC and a Bearshare icon on the desktop. Although the parents had installed a firewall and used a security program to prevent the installation of new software, the lower court held the parents liable: They should have conducted monthly inspections of the computer, such as by looking for new icons and installed software.

The Supreme Court, Bundesgerichtshof, developed a more realistic approach and relieved parents from burdensome obligations. Assuming the minor is normally developed and tends to follow rules, parents act with sufficient diligence by advising their child of the illegality of filesharing. Additional duties to monitor online activities arise only with good cause.

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