Parents not liable for son's illegal music sharing, German court rules
The parents were not obliged to monitor their child's Internet usage, the court ruled
IDG News Service - A German couple are not liable for the filesharing activities of their 13-year old son because they told him unauthorized downloading and sharing of copyrighted material was illegal, and they were unaware the boy violated this prohibition, the German Federal Court of Justice ruled on Thursday.
The parents met their obligation of supervising a normally developed 13-year-old child by teaching him that filesharing is unlawful, the Federal Court of Justice ruled. The parents were not obliged to check up on the boy, or monitor his Internet behavior.
"Parents are in principal not obliged to monitor the child's Internet usage, to check the child's computer or to (partially) obstruct the child's access to the Internet," the court found. Parents are only committed to such measures when they have reasonable grounds to suspect their child is engaging in infringing activity when using the Internet, it added.
The parents were sued by record producers that hold the exclusive copyright to songs shared by the boy. In 2007, one of the producers discovered that 1,147 songs were offered for download at an IP-address that could be traced back to the parents of the boy, the court said.
When their home was searched, the son's PC was seized and on the computer the filesharing programs "Morpheus" and "Bearshare" were found. After that, the plaintiffs asked the parents of the boy to sign a cease and desist request to get them to agree to stop the filesharing now and in the future. The parents signed the request, but they refused to pay damages or legal costs.
While the boy shared over a thousand songs, the lawsuit was over 15 recordings for which the producers demanded 200 euros (US$255) per title or 3,000 euros in total, plus 2,380 euros in legal costs.
The ruling of the Federal Court of Justice reversed a ruling of the higher regional court of Cologne, which found the parents were liable for the illegal filesharing because they failed to fulfill their parental supervision. That court said the parents could have installed a firewall on their son's computer as well as a security program that would have made it possible to only allow the child to install software with the consent of his parents.
Besides that, the parents could have checked their son's PC once a month, and then the parents would have spotted the Bearshare icon on the computers' desktop, according to the Cologne court. "The Federal Court overturned the decision of the Appeal Court and dismissed it," the court said.
The Federal Court did not respond to a request for comment.
Loek Essers is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- HP HAVEn: See the big picture in Big Data HP HAVEn is the industry's first comprehensive, scalable, open, and secure platform for Big Data. Enterprises are drowning in a sea of data...
- What Datapipe customers need to know about the new PCI DSS 3.0 compliance standard This handy quick reference outlines what PCI DSS 3.0 is, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the new...
- The 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements addressed by Peer 1 Hosting This handy quick reference outlines the 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the...
- Defense Throughout the Vulnerability Life Cycle This whitepaper provides insight into how to leverage threat and log management technologies to protect your IT assets throughout their vulnerability life cycle.
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well...
- The New Way to Work Knowledge Vault This Knowledge Vault focuses on how, in today's increasingly virtual world, it's more important than ever to engage deeply with employees, suppliers, partners,... All Legal White Papers | Webcasts