German Court Recognizes That An Internet Connection Is Now Indispensable For Modern Life

from the and-that-it's-rather-wonderful dept

The German Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe has acknowledged that an Internet connection is indispensable for life in the modern world, and that being cut off for several months deserves monetary compensation per day for the knock-on losses that inevitably causes:

The plaintiff was erroneously disconnected and demanded that the unnamed telecommunications company pay for costs that incurred in switching to a new provider. The plaintiff also demanded compensation of [about $67] per day for the period his was unable to use his DSL, fax over IP and VoIP services, according to the court.

The Federal Court, however, awarded compensation only for loss of the internet connection. Compensation for the loss of a fax connection was denied because a fax only enables the user to send text and images faster than conventional mail and the technology is increasingly becoming irrelevant due to the rise of alternatives such as email, the court ruled.
The court's reasoning for the award is worth reading for its wide-eyed enthusiasm that is reminiscent of the early days of the Web (original in German):
Being able to use the Internet is an economic benefit whose continuous availability, even in the private sector, has for a long time been crucially important for a person's standard of living. The Internet makes available global information in the form of text, image, video and audio files. Thematically, almost all areas are covered and the most varied quality requirements satisfied. For example, light entertainment files are as readily available as information on everyday issues or highly academic subjects. Because of this easy availability, more and more the Internet is replacing other media, such as encyclopedias, magazines or television. It also allows global exchanges between its users, for example via e-mail, forums, blogs and social networks. In addition, it is increasingly used for the initiation and conclusion of contracts, for serving legal instruments and fulfilling public service obligations. The overwhelming majority of people living in Germany use the Internet on a daily basis. As a result, it has developed into a decisively important medium for the lifestyle of a large part of the population, and one whose failure has a significant impact on everyday life.
It's great to see courts in Germany and elsewhere recognizing the central importance of the Internet to modern life -- not least because this necessarily implies that "three strikes"-type punishments that involve disconnection from it are totally disproportionate, and akin to cutting off someone's electricity or water supply for months or more.

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Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    MrWilson, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 6:26pm

    "akin to cutting off someone's electricity or water supply for months or more."

    Or just consider all the activities that an internet connection replaces or supplements: reading the newspaper, reading magazines, reading books, looking things up in the encyclopedia, talking to people on the phone, sending and receiving letters, faxing documents, watching tv, watching movies, playing video games, playing board games, filling out government forms, filling out business forms, participating in politics, etc, etc, etc...

    Would any judge or jury rightfully take all of those activities and more away from a person as part of a sentence? Even convicts get internet access in prison sometimes.

     

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  2.  
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    weneedhelp - not signed in, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 6:54pm

    Would any judge or jury rightfully take all of those activities and more away from a person as part of a sentence?

    I think prosecutors like Carmen Ortiz and the AA's would foam at the mouth to do this to someone. They are ruthless and vindictive without conscience. To them it is justifiable. Setting an example is more important than what is true and just. Sickening.

    Its judicial terrorism.(Patent and Trademark pending) :)

     

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  3.  
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    Zos (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 7:02pm

    sure, lots of judges would be happy to, and do, without a second thought.

     

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  4.  
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    Gill Bates, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 7:10pm

    Ya think???

    Yeah, if I couldn't comment like this I'd croak...

     

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  5. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 7:41pm

    It's great to see courts in Germany and elsewhere recognizing the central importance of the Internet to modern life -- not least because this necessarily implies that "three strikes"-type punishments that involve disconnection from it are totally disproportionate, and akin to cutting off someone's electricity or water supply for months or more.

    I used to think you were smarter than this. Abuse your electric or water service, and that gets cut off too. No trial or nothing. Just accusations. OMG! Better call the EFF!

    Sigh. You guys are so fucking boring sometimes.

     

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  6.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Jan 25th, 2013 @ 8:11pm

    Let's expand to other things, too

    The German Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe has acknowledged that an Internet connection is indispensable for life in the modern world, and that being cut off for several months deserves monetary compensation per day for the knock-on losses that inevitably causes

    The thing is, with some people pushing for privatization of as much as possible, society might actually be headed the other way. If you can't pay for it, you don't get it: health care, food, education, clean water and air, etc.

    Discussing what everyone should have access to, even when they don't have the ability to pay, is a great topic for discussion.

     

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  7.  
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    weneedhelp - not signed in, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 8:47pm

    Re:

    "Abuse your electric or water service" - Not quite sure how one would do that, other than bypassing a meter which would be theft, so the analogy fails.

    Its not like they would care if I hooked up my neighbor with either as long a I payed the bill.

    In colder states it is illegal for utilities to shut off service during cold months. Before this was enacted utilities shut PPL off and they froze to death.

    Internet access is becoming more and more like that. I need it for my job, pay bills, check the bank, student loan, etc.

    The thing is cutting off someone for an accusation is the issue. No proof of abuse needs to be given. Just the say so of the MAFIAA. There should be consequences when at the whim of the MAFIAA they wrongly disconnect users. If there were, ISP's would have to be sure before cutting someone off. The way it is now, they bypass the whole judicial process, assume guilt, hand down a sentence, and then the user has to prove innocence.

    When a criminal gets caught shoplifting, they get arrested, processed, and has the chance to post bail and be free until the trial.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 10:31pm

    Re:

    Yes, because irrelevant 3rd-parties are capable of shutting down your electricity and water supply for perceived unproven offenses.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2013 @ 11:43pm

    What good is the internet to Germans if most of it is blocked by GEMA and other rackets? :D

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 4:07am

    Re:

    Frustrating as it may be for us, I would hardly call music videos on youtube 'most of the internet'. Also, there are these mythical beings called 'proxies' that live in some kind of tubes and can magically alter the way the bits look, so that the ghost of internet censorship thinks they come from another country. I think proxies are somehow related to pixies. It's magic.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 4:21am

    Re:

    1. I don't know which country you're from but the main, almost only, reason you would have your gas or electricity disconnected in the UK is due to non-payment.

    2. The gas / electricity supplier certainly wouldn't disconnect your gas or electricity supply because the entertainment industry told them to.

    3. Your supply of gas or electricity is not arbitrarily disconnected - it is disconnected after following a legal process which includes proving that the customer has not paid their bill and has been reasonably informed that non-payment will result in disconnection, something that is also well within the rights of an ISP.

    Sigh. You trolls are always so fucking stupid.

     

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  12.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 6:04am

    Re:

    And you are so fucking stupid all the time.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 7:49am

    Re: Re:

    Except when GEMA and their ilk push for things like "strikes" plans, what starts as music videos then becomes ALL of the Internet for the person affected and at that point, proxies don't really help much once the connection is severed or throttled at the ISP.

     

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  14.  
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    Richard (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 8:00am

    Re:

    Add to that - being able to spend and receive money.

    (Online banking, online shopping, paypal etc)

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 8:14am

    Re:

    If you think it's not indispensable you clearly don't need your Internet connection.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 8:54am

    Re: Re:

    I actually think we should take away that AC's Internet for a week, if only so that the number of anonymous trolls goes down by 1000%.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Richard (profile), Jan 26th, 2013 @ 9:44am

    Re: Re: Re:

    As negative trolls are impossible this cannot be done.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 7:23pm

    Yeeesss, because the GEMA is so totally in control of the complete internet. Especially all those parts that have nothing to do with music. And how do 'strikes' plans against alleged copyright infringement relate to my reading gamespot or ars or techdirt or ANYTHING other than downloading/uploading/streaming illegitimate media files?

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 7:24pm

    Re:

    reply fail, mas meant to be a reply to the AC @ Jan 26th, 2013 @ 7:49am

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2013 @ 11:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    What are you talking about? I haven't seen a troll whose behaviour could be considered positive, ever.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2013 @ 2:30am

    Re: Re:

    You're kidding, right? The MPAA has claimed that Ars Technica is a piracy apologist site for being critical of their antipiracy plans. GEMA is a clone of the RIAA who is essentially the MPAA's bastard in-bred brother.

    The alphabet clone rightsholder organisations worldwide will attack any site if they can come up with a pretext no matter how flimsy it is.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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