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Sharing 2,999 Songs, 199 Movies Is Safe In Germany 212

Posted by kdawson
from the aappropriate-allocation-of-prosecutorial-resources dept.
unassimilatible writes "Torrentfreak is reporting that German prosecutors will now only pursue larger-scale file sharers on the Internet, as they are tired of being the entertainment industry's profit collector. 'Prosecutors in a German state have announced they will refuse to entertain the majority of file-sharing lawsuits in [the] future. It appears that only commercial-scale copyright infringers will be pursued, with those sharing under 3,000 music tracks and 200 movies dropping under the prosecution radar.' And the money quote: 'It seems that the legal system in Germany has had enough of this "abuse" of the criminal law system for "civil" monetary gain.' If only an American politician would make this point. Why should taxpayers underwrite their government becoming enforcers for the entertainment industry? Then again, when you see how much politicians are being paid, an answer suggests itself."
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Sharing 2,999 Songs, 199 Movies Is Safe In Germany

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  • by slashdotlurker (1113853) on Friday August 15, 2008 @12:35PM (#24617085)
    Bush should break off diplomatic relations with such an evil country. That will show them ...
    • by lbmouse (473316) on Friday August 15, 2008 @12:46PM (#24617289) Homepage

      "German prosecutors only pursue larger-scale file sharers. Bush attacks Paraguay."

    • by tjstork (137384) <todd@bandrowsky.gmail@com> on Friday August 15, 2008 @02:26PM (#24619037) Homepage Journal

      Why? Bush should say something about how terrible it is, and do absolutely nothing. Let's face it - the entertainment industry is not exactly packed with Republicans these days. Republicans need to be about as friendly to the entertainment business as the entertainment business is to coal and nuclear. If the whole world and all of your allies want you to let your political enemies be driven out of business by too much copying, why should you really stop them? Come on liberals, copy away. The pen might be mightier than the sword, but its still a weakling compared to the greenback

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Well, the actual actors, directors and set workers may lean democratic, but I posit that the actual owners lean heavily to the Republicans. You know, companies like General Electric and so on. Board members, people like that. The sort of people that see movies and songs as commodities, not as artworks. The people behind the RIAA and MPAA, who constantly lobby for longer copyright protections.

        It isn't much different in newspapers either. The reporters may be more liberal and social-minded, but the owners oft

  • logic error (Score:5, Insightful)

    by larry bagina (561269) on Friday August 15, 2008 @12:35PM (#24617101) Journal
    The RIAA is using civil suits.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Icegryphon (715550)
      Which takes up time in court, Which wastes tax money, Which you and I pay.
      • Re:logic error (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pha7boy (1242512) on Friday August 15, 2008 @12:45PM (#24617285)

        Which takes up time in court, Which wastes tax money, Which you and I pay.

        Sorry, but that is irrelevant. If you suggest that we should create a system in which only "fair" lawsuits could be brought to court, I'd ask you who would decide which is fair.

        In any case, the court can always ask the looser to pay court costs if they decide that the lawsuit had no merits.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by swabeui (1291044)
          I agree. We either have a system or we don't. Allowing general exceptions because we don't like it is a slippery slope. On the other hand, I think they may be onto something here. Right now a large number of people (dare I say majority) feel the RIAA is just a bully group picking on the weak. The RIAA will not run out of people to sue, they can find 100 people tomorrow based on these limits. But.. BUT! Instead of people feeling they are picking on the weak, they will see the defendant as stupid for sh
        • by crabboy.com (771982) on Friday August 15, 2008 @02:23PM (#24618989) Homepage
          Why should only the looser pay? What about the tighter??? This is fricking tension discrimination!!!
        • In any case, the court can always ask the looser to pay court costs if they decide that the lawsuit had no merits.

          Personally, I'd rather they have the "tighter" pay the court costs, rather than the "looser".

        • by pha7boy (1242512)
          All right ya bastards, loser NOT looser. There. Can we now move on?
    • by Gewalt (1200451)
      What's the RIA of AMERICA got to do with GERMANY? ...just curious...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by The Moof (859402)
        Don't think that our borders will stop the RIAA from attempting to impose their will across the globe.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          They're backing off in Germany because many people don't enjoy viewing BDSM and scheisse movies as the prosecution presents their evidence.
          • To be fair, the Germans are just as much into high participant groups and Bukake.

            No wonder they teamed up with the Japanese in WW2!

        • by BPPG (1181851)

          Quite right,

          For example, Bill C61 passes in Canada, the RIAA would be able to prosecute Canadian file-sharers from across the border.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Elektroschock (659467)

        The criminal sanctions are the wrong instrument. Copyright infringement is a matter of civil enforcement, not criminal enforcement. You cannot spam the Staatsanwaltschaften with copyright infringement.

        The RIAA works hard to get the IPRED2 directive adopted which would make criminal sanctions more widely available [ipred.org], effectively messing up the criminal penalty system for the sake of a dying Hollywood movie industry that already lost the war.

        It is like the SS who hanged ordinary citizens on the fly who didn't w

    • Re:logic error (Score:4, Informative)

      by moronoxyd (1000371) on Friday August 15, 2008 @01:04PM (#24617567)

      Correct.
      But to sue somebody, they have to know whom.

      So what they do in Germany, they send the IP adress of a suppost pirate to the prosecuters, who investigate the matter. While doing this they ask the internet providers for the identity of the person who used that IP address at that time.
      In most cases, they stop investigating once they come to the conclusion that no crime was commited.

      Now the lawyers of the recording industry get the opportunity to look into the files of the prosecuters, get the information of the suspected pirate and sue him in a civil case.

    • No logic error (Score:5, Informative)

      by Timosch (1212482) on Friday August 15, 2008 @01:37PM (#24618115)
      Yes, they do (and also their German version), but they need to get the names behind the IP addresses. So they start a criminal trial, ask the police for the IP data, then start their civil law suit and let the criminal case go to hell. That is exactly what this stuff is about. You should have RTFA.
    • not a logic error (Score:3, Informative)

      by wzzzzrd (886091)
      The RIAA is using civil suits.

      In germany, the RIAA abuses the criminal courts to get the ID of file sharers. They file a criminal report on which the authorities have to act. Then they demand access to the records in order to obtain the identity of the "terrorist". Criminal charges are dropped in 99.9% of all cases, but the RIAA has the identity and files a civil suit.
    • The RIAA is using civil suits.

      Have you not familiarized yourself with the current criminal IP laws in the USA? The criminalization of intellectual property law - something heretofore dealt with in civil courts except in the most extreme circumstances - is a disturbing trend in the US in the last 10-12 years. And it's getting worse. Now there are bills in Congress to create IP police, akin to the DEA, whose sole job it is to enforce criminal IP laws at taxpayer expense. This is the role of law enforcemen
    • Re:logic error (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DHalcyon (804389) <lorenzd AT gmail DOT com> on Friday August 15, 2008 @09:20PM (#24623377)
      Yes, and if the english summaries of this were actually done properly, people wouldn't be confused like this. If you can read german, do yourself a favor and read up on this on a german website.

      For a civil suit, you need to know who to sue. An IP address only won't fly for that in germany - you need identities. But the ISPs are not giving out customer details to private companies. So what the industry does is filing a criminal suit first, so the police has to investigate, subpoenaing the infringers identity from the ISP. Then, the criminal suit is retracted - as there has been no commercial infringment, so there's no success to be found there - but because of court documentation, the infringers name, address etc. are still known to the RIAAish organization. They then use this information for filing a civil suit. The new policy closes this loophole. You could still be prosecuted for downloading even one song, but there is now pretty much no way to get your IP unless you're _probably_ guilty commercial copyright infringment. Where the line is to be drawn is upon the courts to decide. FYI, downloading an only very recently or not yet released movie _does_ probably count as commercial - as it probably hurts the commercial interested of the rightsholder.

      It's overally a quite sane way to go about, given how things are(tm).
  • I, for one, (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2008 @12:36PM (#24617115)

    welcome our German overlords.
    Wait, what?

  • Signed/Unsigned tags (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Spatial (1235392) on Friday August 15, 2008 @12:38PM (#24617149)
    What on Earth do those mean? When I click on them, I still don't see any relationship between the articles that've been tagged with them.
  • "In return" (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2008 @12:44PM (#24617251)

    Beginning next month, copyright holders can just ask ISPs directly for the address of filesharers, so they don't need the public prosecutor anymore. Until then, having the public prosecutor investigate copyright infringement was the only way to get the name and address of the filesharer. No case was actually pursued. It was always just a vehicle to get the necessary information for a civil suit (actually just a way to get people to sign cease-and-desist declarations and pay up: The civil suit also rarely goes to court).

    • Re:"In return" (Score:4, Informative)

      by Wdi (142463) on Friday August 15, 2008 @01:36PM (#24618091)

      Mod parent up. This is the only relevant post so far.

      There will be a new law which gives copyright holders the tools to request infringer user data directly from ISPs which are required to store it for some time. Before that, it was not possible to get this data without a criminal warrant due to personal data protection laws, and so an enormous case load resulted for the public prosecutors. They do not want to play along any longer for smaller cases where no criminal trial will ultimately result. Copyright holders are of course still eligible for compensation by infringers by means of a civil suit. This whole process has just been streamlined. That is all. No free passes for anybody.

  • Why should taxpayers underwrite their government becoming enforcers for the entertainment industry? Then again, when you see how much politicians are being paid, an answer suggests itself.

    Because the entertainment industry claims that laws are broken. Having said that, it's more of a question about what's fair use and what's not.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by L Boom (1274024)
      It's even trickier: Universal recently argued that there is effectively no such thing as Fair Use [arstechnica.com] and that any use is potentially infringement.

      The reason? They want to avoid liability for being sued over frivolous lawsuits. If Fair Use is inherently questionable, then they can sue anyone they want whenever they want without consequence while they stick ordinary people with huge legal fees and no chance of recovering them from the people who dragged them into court in the first place. The whole point, o
  • by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Friday August 15, 2008 @01:06PM (#24617629) Journal

    Germany is a federal state, comprised of multiple independent states with their own governments. According to TFA, this only counts for prosecutors from the Nort-Rhine Westphalia.

    Come on. Learn a little something about the rest of the world.

  • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Friday August 15, 2008 @01:09PM (#24617675)

    I've already seen it:
    This is akin to the local sheriff saying he will no longer prosecute muggings where the victim did not go to the hospital.

    This equivocations seem to say that these people want *all* the laws enforced without any regard to a prioritizing by benefit to society.

    The key they mentioned was "criminal law for monetary GAIN."

    They are right in refusing to criminally prosecute citizens where no appreciable harm was incurred for the monetary enrichment of a single party. Its like watching a car speeding a little but otherwise safely and *NOT* pulling them over and giving them a ticket.

    There isn't a single country in the world in which you would want all the laws enforced consistently.

  • part 1 [google.com] and part 2 [google.com]. Beware, google translation ahead.
  • Its good to not be the errand boy of thr RIAA and others but 3K songs seems a might high..

  • Ich bin ein Berliner. Or, at least my IP is.
  • by stsp (979375) on Friday August 15, 2008 @01:31PM (#24618011) Homepage
    English summary of TFA's source [sueddeutsche.de], an interview with chief prosecutor of the German state North Rhine-Westphalia [wikipedia.org] for all ye non-German speakers here:
    • He is saying that they primarily want to focus their resources on prosecuting copyright violations which have a commercial background.
    • They consider 3.000 illegally shared audio files and 200 illegally shared movie files lower bounds for commercial background, respectively.
    • He is saying that they derived these numbers from the assumption that, on average, an audio file was worth 1 euro, and a movie file was worth 15 euro, resulting in commercial damages of 3.000 euro each.
    • He's saying that, inspite of this, illegally sharing copyrighted material is still illegal.
    • Furthermore, he states that in his jurisdiction (the biggest one of three total in North-Rhine Westphalia), there were around 25.000 cases related to copyright infringement filed in court within the first half of 2008.
    • He is saying that in his experience, most of these cases get filed to get at the identity of people behind IP addresses in order to sue them for damages.
    • He's saying that network operators charge the prosecutors (that's him) 17 euro per hour for matching up IP addresses to people. They can do this according to German law.
    • He also states that all these cases add considerable overhead to their day-to-day operations because they are binding a lot of their resources.
    • While he's saying that copyright infringement is to be considered a criminal act, he also says that it is a lesser criminal act than others.
    • The interviewer compares filesharing to consuming Cannabis, which the interviewer says is being treated similarly. The interviewer says that both copyright infringement and consuming Cannabis were primarily done by younger people.
    • The chief ackknowledges the interviewer's remark that both of these are primarily done by younger people. He says that juvenile behaviour should not be criminalised in each and every case, and that focusing their entire resources on such cases was out of proportion.
  • My hard disk doesn't hold that much....!

    • Soviet General: "My troops get 2000 calories of food every day!"

      American General: "My troops get 4000 calories of food every day!"

      Soviet General: "Nonsense! Nobody can eat that much of potatoes!"

      Soviet General: "My troops have 200GB of films!"

      American General: "My troops have 400GB of films!"

      Soviet General: "Nonsense! Nobody can wank that much!"

  • Amazing that the RIAA/MPAA don't "own" more of the laws in the US with their contribution record. Democrats: $11,163,030 Republicans: $2,104,737 I had always assumed the "Law and Order" party (Republicans) would be the major force and benefactor of the industry. I'm going to have to re-think my support based on these numbers. Five to one contribution rate over the GOP is a pretty telling statistic against the Democrats..
  • "most" german attorneys came to the "understanding" that they would follow those guidelines, because they want to stop
    being abused.

    No attorney is bound to this understanding, so there is no safe haven.

    Some attorneys in germany are/were very vivid on supporting the entertainment industry. Most attorneys got tired of being abused as simple information providers, because the attorneys mostly setteled the criminal cases with a fine and no judgement or really no judgement.

    This was because there was nearly no pub
  • Read here:

    http://www.ispreview.co.uk/news/EkEVVpuFlApoyDjYJv.html [ispreview.co.uk]

    New law proposal - 3 strikes and you're out... nice.

    Fuck off from our national laws!

  • Then again, when you see how much politicians are being paid, an answer suggests itself.

    The sad thing is how LITTLE it costs to buy a Senator or Congressman.

  • This is a great move. Hopefully the EU will keep out.
  • They should be going after and nailing to the wall anybody who makes copyrighted material available FOR PROFIT, regardless of the number of files. They should leave people who are just to stupid to configure their file sharing software properly alone. My local library makes thousands of CDs and DVDs available for copying (physical media, not over the 'net)... shouldn't they be prosecuted under German law?

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