German Teen Charged With Sharing Music Fined 30 Euros

from the seems-a-bit-more-reasonable dept

While we’re still dealing with people losing copyright lawsuits and being told to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for sharing a handful of songs, a court in Germany has ordered a guy to pay a grand total of 30 euros ($41) for sharing two music tracks. He had been sued by the copyright holders, demanding 300 euros per track, but the court apparently decided to cut the amount down to just 5% of the rightsholders’ request. Separately, the copyright holders had apparently tried to also sue the kid’s father, since it was his internet connection that was being used — but the court rejected that line of attack, quite reasonably.

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Comments on “German Teen Charged With Sharing Music Fined 30 Euros”

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25 Comments
Karl (profile) says:

'Bout time

This seems reasonable to me.

Even assuming (falsely) that each download is a lost sale, in theory he would only owe money for his own download, plus whoever downloaded from him. Personally distributing the song to 20 users seems like a pretty accurate number, so at $.99/song, $21 per song is about right.

You could argue for additional penalties as a deterrent, but even if you do, they should be nowhere near the statutory damages we have in this country. As Judge Gertner properly said when she reduced the Tannenbaum damages, statutory damages were set when copyright infringement was synonymous with commercial infringement.

So, this is good news. It’s also really surprising, given the fact that Germany’s copyright laws are the most draconian in Europe.

Expect a circus to begin, as major labels (and their apologists) start shouting that Germany “encourages piracy.”

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: 'Bout time

@Karl – You seem to be double counting the same way the record labels do.

“Personally distributing the song to 20 users seems like a pretty accurate number”

Lets do the math sing your assumption of 20 songs copied. The song was available for a week. At 20 copies made per user per week …

Week one 20 = 20 copies
Week two 20*20 = 400
Week three 400 * 20 = 8,000
Week four 8,000 * 20 = 160,000
Week five 160,000 * 20 = 3,200,000
Week six 3,200,000 * 20 = 64,000,000
Week seven 64,000,000 * 20 = 1,280,000,000
Week eight 1,280,000,000 * 20 = 25,600,000,000

Thats with not summing and adding the previous weeks copies every week.

Okay, what that means is that in 8 weeks all 25 billion people on earth would have heard Angel” by “Rammstein” and “Roll Over not” by Marius Müller-Westernhagen!!!

Here is the problem with doing guess work math …

There are 7 billion people on earth not 25 billion.

This was in 2006 and the number of copies should be larger than the number of atoms in the universe following your assumption and record industry math. (~1.125899906842624e+65 copies after a year)

I have never heard of either song. With the number of copies since 2006 larger than the number of atoms in the universe, I am guessing there is a conspiracy to keep this music away from me.

I guess your assumption and the record labels math is a little off.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: 'Bout time

Lets do the math sing your assumption of 20 songs copied.

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you this, but your math doesn’t work, for the same reason that pyramid schemes don’t work.

There’s only a finite pool of people that are even interested in getting a specific music file. Every time someone shares a file with one of those people, that pool shrinks.

Furthermore, the number of people who share the file is only a small portion of downloaders. If you share a file with 20 people, only one or two (if that) will turn around and share it with someone else.

So, as an estimate of what each seeder is personally responsible for, 20 seems a good number. Therefore, individual damages should never exceed 20x the retail cost of the file.

That’s not record label math, by the way. Labels apparently think that whoever they sue should be held responsible for any reduction in profits – even when the “loss” of profits has zero to do with file sharing, and the role of each individual infringer is minimal.

Or more likely: Their math is “we can get statutory damages – ka-ching!” and they don’t care about anything else. (That’s more like USCG, though.)

Anonymous Coward says:

I dont know Karl, could you really argue that if this person didnt download the file it wouldnt be available? (say for example there were 1000 seeds, also assuming its a traditional P2P with shared directories).

But if they put it as the cost of the tracks(99c) then the rest was “deterent”, then that seems ok.

Either way it certaintly seems a lot better than the amounts in the previous few cases!

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I dont know Karl, could you really argue that if this person didnt download the file it wouldnt be available?

Whether it’s available from another infringer really doesn’t make a difference. It’s like saying your bootleg is OK, because someone else made a bootleg too.

(say for example there were 1000 seeds, also assuming its a traditional P2P with shared directories).

Torrent files are more problematic than “vanilla” P2P, since no one user distributes a complete copy to any other user. You’d have to calculate it in the aggregate.

What’s the average ratio of seeders to leechers? I honestly don’t know, but 1:20 seems at least in the realm of possibility.

Incidentally, I’m just playing Devil’s advocate here. I still believe that non-commercial infringement should be legal, for two reasons:

1. It is in line with the Constitutional requirement that copyright must ultimately benefit the public above all else; and

2. In the long run, it helps artists more than it hurts them.

…You probably guessed that, but I wanted to be clear.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Well, for “making available”, the thing to remember is that it’s available at the EXACT same place. Whether there’s 1 seeder or 2000, the download occurs at the same place, with the same tracker, using the same Torrent file.

If I download it, that means it was already available.

As for seeding ratios, 1:20 seems like a good guess for starting torrents. As they age, though, it becomes more like the opposite…20:1 or so. Bittorrent has a rather intriguing system (I’ve studied the basic protocols, and they’re quite ingenious).

Tom Pritchard says:

Not that reasonable

As it was just mentioned above, this was a fairly unique case in that there were only 2 songs, the guy had not had that many downloads of the songs, and they were ‘old’ songs. Multiply the damages to reflect the number of songs people are usually taken to court over, you will find that it isn’t any different than any other case.

However, it is the first time I have heard a court take into account the age and therefore the demand for the songs. It sets an interesting scenario for other artists. What if the two songs were, for example, by Michael Jackson, around the time he died? The sales of his music soared. Could the same ‘age’ argument be used here? Or would the rate of sales at that time dictate the demand?

Drizzt says:

Another thing that should be noted: as the kid has been found guilty he will most likely be paying all legal costs, including those of the music labels. So it might be “just 30 ? in damages”, but probably x thousand Euros of for the bills of all the lawyers and the court.

That said: the ruling is still great, especially for others. Especially since they said the damages where calculated by “what reasonable partners would agree upon in a licensing contract” (sorry, German only) as a base.

Cheers,
Drizzt

Anonymous Coward says:

At any given time a original bittorrent client will be uploading to 4 or 8(for broadband) peers, that is the limit in the software, sometimes not even that, just look at the settings and anyone can see it. It can be “connected” to 50 or a 100 but it cycles through that list 4 or 8 peers at a time(in 10 ~ 25 min), upload bandwidth is severely limited so it doesn’t get as many connections, even for download you only connect to 25 ~ 50 peers at a time.

Other P2P networks are not that different as this is a physical barrier(bandwidth).

So in the worst case scenario you get someone uploading to 700 people in 24 hours. Anything in 4 to 700 people is a fair guess.

abc gum says:

“Although he was considered responsible for his connection, that did not lead to a liability for damages.”

This is rather interesting, not sure what it means though.

I suppose that much like a gun, you should keep your connections locked up or something, I mean one does not just leave ones connection laying around on a table where children can play with it. Does this responsibility also include connections to the electrical grid? Does anyone make a lockable outdoor socket? I guess you are responsible if someone sticks their finger in there and gets zapped. Oh, and what about the connection to the water main, better watchout for that too, because you are responsible for what someone else will do with the water they steal from you.

Anonymous Coward says:

About time someone got sensible. But there should be no fine for a couple of songs! Give me a break. As an Recording Artist I could never support penalizing my fans in any way and any company that represented me and then dissed my fans by suing them. I would sue the company representing me for hampering my commerce and using my name to commit extortion.

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