Say That Again

by Glyn Moody

Filed Under:
children, germany, liability, parents

Recording Industry Rep Suggests Parents Should Slap Their Children To Stop Piracy

from the mask-is-slipping dept

One of the many problems with the "guilty until proven innocent" approach to tackling unauthorized filesharing is that it's not clear exactly who should get the punishment. For example, in France, we saw someone convicted not for infringement that he had committed, but something his then-wife had done and even admitted. And it's not just spousal activity that is problematic, as TorrentFreak reports in this interesting case from Germany:

A ruling handed down yesterday by Germany's highest court represents a blow to rightsholders in their quest to clamp down on illicit file-sharing. The court ruled that the parents of a teenager who had made available more than 1,100 songs on file-sharing networks can not be held responsible for their son's infringements, nor be required to monitor or hinder his online activities.
What's particularly interesting here is that Germany's top court not only threw out the original fine, but did so without imposing any unreasonable conditions on the parents, for example by requiring them to spy on their child:
The Court ruled that the parents had met their parental obligations when they informed their child of "basic do's and don'ts" including that file-sharing copyrighted content online is illegal.

Furthermore, the Court ruled that the parents were not required to monitor their child's online activities nor install special software to restrict his online behavior. This would only be required should the parents have "reasonable grounds" to presume that their child would engage in infringing activities online.
Of course, not everyone was happy with this result, which could have major implications for imposing fines in Germany, since it seems likely that much unauthorized file sharing there as elsewhere is carried out by teenagers in their family homes. The blog pointed us to an interesting comment made by a representative of the music industry (original in German):
The case shines "a harsh light" on the fact that, for many parents, the concept of upbringing has become a foreign word, the legal representative of the music industry complained, according to the AFP news agency at the hearing before the federal court in Karlsruhe. While before "an occasional slap didn't hurt", today children are kept on a loose leash.
This hankering after the good old days when parents could hit children to cow them into submission is hardly surprising: it's the physical equivalent of the disproportionate legal punishment the music industry would like to see meted out to all those caught doing naughty things online like sharing files without permission.

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Reader Comments

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  1. identicon
    anon, 16 Nov 2012 @ 1:33pm

    Re: Okay, NOW 'the parents have "reasonable grounds" ', right?

    WOW you are really a nasty person, and downloading files has not been found as illegal under the copyright laws, uploading is, but as any society when they gain the ability to give back to someone who has helped them out they do. The moral and ethical use of torrent software is more than any middleman can handle as they are unethical and hate seeing anyone gain in nay way when it comes to content they have limited control of.

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