German Court Says 'Accidental' File Sharing Isn't A Crime

from the accidentally-on-purpose dept

Michael Scott alerts us to the news that a court in Germany has found that accidental file sharing is not a crime. In this case, it involved a guy using file sharing software, where he didn’t realize that anything he downloaded was automatically shared. For that reason, he was found not guilty of sharing the same content. Of course, as the article notes, this isn’t likely to be meaningful in other lawsuits in Germany for a variety of reasons, including the lack of precedential power of court rulings, and the fact that most copyright cases in Germany are civil, rather than criminal cases (this one was criminal, because of the nature of the content). Still, in an era when “accidental infringement” has become pretty much the norm, it’s nice seeing a court realize the problems of charging someone for infringing by accident.

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Comments on “German Court Says 'Accidental' File Sharing Isn't A Crime”

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Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:


Was this guy in a criminal case because he downloaded the “violent pornography” and the infringement was a secondary charge? Or was he in a criminal infringement case and the only reason it was criminal was because of the content of the infringing material?

Basically I’m asking if violent pornography is illegal in Germany (I could see some being illegal) or did some uptight asshole make it a criminal case because they were offended by legal porn.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Question

OK, never mind. I think I figured it out. This wasn’t an “accidental infringement” case it was accidentally sharing an illegal file. If the file was illegal to download that it must be illegal to upload.

Well, in that case I think it falls under “Ignorance of the law is no excuse”. So he didn’t pay attention to the software, that’s his own damn fault.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Question

It’s not ignorance of the law. Ignorance of the law would imply that he intentionally performed an action that was illegal, without knowing it was illegal.

The point here is that there was absolutely no intent to perform the act that he was charged with. He was cleared of the charge of “Distribution” because he had no intent to distribute the material, and didn’t even know that it was being distributed from his computer.

Overcast (profile) says:

The gun went off your honor, it was an accident. I didn’t know it would go off.

No – that’s an ok analogy. If the charge was specifically “First Degree Murder” – then you would in fact be found innocent of that charge.

Of course; after that – it might end up being manslaughter, etc – but for the ‘accused offense’ of Murder in the First degree, it would not apply.

So yeah – a prosecutor could goof that up if the legal docs weren’t in order somehow, I’m sure.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The court just created another exception for “infringers”. This is the “dog ate my homework” excuse, a total lie but difficult to disprove. Did you really intend to share that file, or did you just not realize what that nasty, sneaky piece of software actually did?

It’s another huge loophole.

CleverName says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“It’s another huge loophole”

In Germany maybe …

But I still do not get the relationship to the other story about the corrupted files.

I didn’t know that was in the shared folder
… is equal to
I’m going to turn in a corrupted file because I didn’t do the assignement

Both are total lies ? Ok, I guess.

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