Hello,My 17 year old daughter (from US) visited Germany recently to go to school for a semester. While she was staying at one of our friend's homes in Berlin, she download roughly 100 songs using their internet connection. They recently received a letter from copyright attorneys asking for various amounts / song and they are quite concerned - the math can look pretty expensive! We, of course, have offered to help any way we can. It appears this isn't uncommon (from what I've read on internet forums from English-speaking Germans). How would you recommend proceeding?Thanks!XXXXX XXXXX
Some basic internet research.
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please tell your friends not to sign any prepared agreements by the lawyers representing the rightsholders. These agreements usually go further than necessary and may raise the risk of being part of further civil reponsibilities for future uploads (the act prosecuted is the act of sharing files to other users which automatically happens when downloading something using a P2P network).
However, it is important to comply with the deadline for delivering the declaration that one will not continue to share the mentioned content of the rightsholders (Unterlassungserklärung). Otherwise relatively costly summary proceedings are likely due to the high values of claim.
Due to the complexity of the issue it is the safest and often also cheapest way to let a lawyer experienced in these cases (keywords Urheberrecht, Abmahnung) do the negotiation. Ask for the price before. Many German lawyers will do such cases for around 200 Euros without sticking to the rediculously high values of claim used by courts and the rightsholder's attorneys.
The defence stating that not the friends but your daughter did the violation will not be successful before German courts unless your friends can prove that the had forbidden the use of such P2P-filesharing software and actually did control that. Entering into proceedings with this defence may be risky in relation to the relatively cheap sums which can be negotiated beforehand.
LL.M. in International Trade Law (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)
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