Dangerous Ruling In Germany Makes Domain Registrar Liable For Copyright Infringement On Website It Registered

from the any-means-necessary dept

We already find the concept of "secondary liability" when it comes to copyright troubling enough. It's worrisome when a third party who had no direct involvement in the actual infringement can be blamed for it. Yet, in the legacy entertainment industry's insane infatuation with stopping all infringement, they keep going further up the chain, past secondary liability into tertiary or possibly even quaternary liability -- blaming those further and further removed from the actual infringement. That includes going after companies like ad providers and search engines -- but also, apparently, it includes going after registrars. We've seen some of this recently in various attempts to target registrars, but a ruling in Germany is hugely troubling, finding a registrar guilty because a site registered through that registrar was apparently used by someone to infringe.

Let's be clear just how far this is removed from the actual infringement. The infringement, if it actually existed, was between two or more individuals, who shared a torrent of Robin Thicke's album Blurred Lines. Once removed from that was the torrent site H33T, which did not actually engage in any infringement, but hosted the torrent (which, again, is not the actually infringing file). Another layer removed from that would be H33T's web host. And then we go one more layer up, and we finally get to Key-Systems, the registrar, which was ordered by a court to stop the infringement all those many layers down. And, of course, as the registrar, its only option was to yank the DNS entry, which it did, shutting down the entire site, even if everything else on the site was legal.

It's no secret that Germany seems to be much more open to ridiculous secondary liability claims, leading to some bizarre and dangerous rulings that will stifle innovation. And this seems to fit right in with those in the past. Key-Systems' lawyer agreed, telling TorrentFreak that the ruling "made no legal sense" and had "dire consequences for the kind of services German registrars can provide."

Universal Music, which brought the lawsuit, defended the outcome with some bizarre logic in a comment to TorrentFreak as well. First, a lawyer for Universal claimed that since H33T was a domain reseller, that tied the two companies together, but that makes no sense, especially since the issue of the torrent is totally unrelated to reselling domain names. Just because the companies have a relationship, doesn't make one liable for the others' totally unrelated actions. But then there's this absolutely insane logic:
Bruess says at this point it became “quite clear” that as “the only party involved who could stop the infringement”, Key-Systems needed to take action. That involved Key-Systems effectively disabling the whole domain, but Bruess says that was not his company’s request. They had only one requirement – to disable access to a single URL.

“In essence, Rasch Legal had not asked Key-Systems to close down h33t.com, but to stop one single torrent from being communicated to the public through h33t and h33t’s tracker,” he explains.
But, let's take that ridiculous logic one step further. Say, for example, that the registrar was unable to stop this particular torrent from being shared? Do we move one step up the ladder? They could, say, go to VeriSign, and demand they take down the entire .com database, right? Because that would be "the only party who could stop the infringement" at that point, right? And, even though they just wanted that single torrent taken down, if the only way VeriSign can do it is to nuke most of the internet, well, that's perfectly reasonable, right?

Filed Under: blurred lines, copyright, germany, secondary liability, torrent


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  1. icon
    Mike Gale (profile), 13 Feb 2014 @ 9:46pm

    If you object,do something

    These bizarre things will continue while we have law systems based on inappropriate core precepts administered by those who are criminally ignorant of the world they impact.

    Secondary Liability cuts both ways.

    This music company (Universal) represents artists. So I guess they bear primary responsibility for this travesty of reason, rightness and humanity.

    If you care tell their fan clubs, burn your copies of their music (if that's your thing), boycott their concerts, tell them in person whatever (as long as you stay within the law).

    Here's some names from the Universal web site:

    A THOUSAND HORSES
    AALIYAH
    AARON FRESH
    AARON NEVILLE
    ABRAHAM MCDONALD
    ACE HOOD
    ADRIENNE BAILON
    AFI
    AFROMAN
    AGNES
    AGNETHA FÄLTSKOG
    AIR
    AKON
    AKWID
    ALACRANES MUSICAL
    ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO
    ALEJANDRO FERNANDEZ
    ALEX CLARE
    ALEXISONFIRE
    ALFREDO OLIVAS
    B.B. KING
    BABASONICOS
    BABY BASH
    BABY BOY
    BAD LIEUTENANT
    BAD MEETS EVIL
    BANDA EL RECODO
    BANDA LOS RECODITOS
    BANDA SINALOENSE MS DE SERGIO LIZARRAGA
    BANKS
    BARRY WHITE
    BASTILLE
    BAT FOR LASHES
    BE YOUR OWN PET
    BEASTIE BOYS
    BEBEL GILBERTO
    BECK
    BELANOVA
    BERNARD FANNING
    BETH ORTON
    C. BREWER/D. RUNNICLES/ASO
    C2C
    CAFÉ TACUBA
    CALIBRE 50
    CAPITAL CITIESCARE BEARS ON FIRE
    CARIBBEAN CONNECTION FEAT. DAD
    CARLA BRUNI
    CARLOS Y ALEJANDRA
    CARLY RAE JEPSEN
    CARNEY
    CASHIS
    CAT STEVENS
    CELTIC THUNDER
    CHAMILLIONAIRE
    CHARLES HAMILTON
    CHASE COY
    CHENOA
    CHER
    CHESTER FRENCH
    D. FRIZZELL/S. WEST
    DANIEL ASH
    DANIEL HOPE
    DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL
    DAVID BANNER
    DAVID BISBAL
    DAVID GARRETT
    DAVID GRAY
    DAVID GUETTA
    DAVID NAIL
    DAYS DIFFERENCE
    DEAN MARTIN
    DEBI NOVA
    DECEMBERISTS
    DEF LEPPARD
    DELTA SPIRIT
    DEMI LOVATO
    DERRICK HODGE
    D'ESPAIRSRAY
    DIAMOND RINGS
    EASTON CORBIN
    EDDY LOVER
    EDWARD SHARPE & THE MAGNETIC ZEROS
    EELS
    EL DE BARGE
    EL MACIZO
    EL POTRO DE SINALOA
    EL TIGRILLO PALMA
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    ELBOW
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    ELEFTHERIA ARVANITAKI
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    ELLIE GOULDING
    ELTON JOHN/LEON RUSSELL
    ELVIS COSTELLO
    EMELI SANDE
    FABOLOUS
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    FALL OUT BOY
    FANNY LU
    FAR EAST MOVEMENT
    FATBOY SLIM
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    FERGIE
    FIDEL RUEDA
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    FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH
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    FLYLEAFFONOVISA
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    FOUR TOPS
    G. LOVE
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    GAME
    GARY ALLAN
    GARY GO
    GAVIN ROSSDALE
    GEORGE STRAIT
    GERMAN MONTERO
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    GIN WIGMORE
    GINUWINE
    GIRLICIOUS
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    GLORIA TREVI
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    HATEBREED
    HAYES CARLL
    HAYLEY WESTENRA
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    HECTOR EL FATHER
    HEDLEY
    HELENE GRIMAUD
    HOLE
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    HOOBASTANK
    HOT CHIP
    HUICHOL MUSICAL
    I-15
    IDA MARIA
    IGGY AZALEAIL VOLO
    IMAGINE DRAGONSIMELDA MAY
    IMOGEN HEAP & FROU FROU
    INDIA.ARIE
    INGRID MICHAELSON
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    INTERSCOPE
    ISSA GADALA
    IVAN
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    J KING Y MAXIMAN
    J. FUTURISTIC
    JA RULE
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    JACK JOHNSON
    JACKIE CHAIN
    JACKSON 5
    JADAKISS
    JAKE BUGG
    JAMES
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    JAMES VINCENT MCMORROWJAMEY JOHNSON
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    JASON ALDEAN
    JASON MORAN
    JAVEN
    KACEY MUSGRAVES
    KAISER CHIEFS
    KANYE WEST
    KANYE WEST/JAY-Z
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    KATE NASH
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    KEAK DA SNEAK
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    KENDRICK LAMAR
    KENNY "BABYFACE" EDMONDS
    KERI HILSON
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    KEVIN RUDOLF
    L.L. COOL J
    LA APUESTA
    LA ARROLLADORA BANDA EL LIMON
    LA FACTORIA
    LA INCONTENIBLE BANDA ASTILLEROS
    LA ROUX
    LADY ANTEBELLUM
    LADY GAGA
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    LARRY HERNANDEZ
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    MACY GRAYMAJOR LAZER
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    MANN
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    QUINCY JONES
    R.CITY
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    RANDY HOUSER
    RANDY MONTANA
    RASCAL FLATTS
    RAY LAVENDER
    RAZORLIGHT
    REBA MCENTIRE
    REDMAN
    RENI LANE
    REV THEORY
    RHYERICH BOY
    RICHY NIX
    RICK JAMES
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    ROB ZOMBIE
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    SALIVA
    SALLY SHAPIRO
    SALT-N-PEPA
    SAM SPARRO
    SARAH BLASKO
    SARAH BUXTON
    SAUL EL JAGUAR ALARCON
    SCHOOL GYRLS
    SCOOTER SMIFF
    SCORPIONS
    SCOTTY MCCREERY
    SEAN GARRETT
    SEAN O'CONNELL
    SEBASTIAN INGROSSO
    SELENA GOMEZ
    SEMI PRECIOUS WEAPONS
    SERENA RYDER
    SERGIO DALMA
    SHANIA TWAIN
    T.O.K.
    TAIO CRUZ
    TAMAR KAPRELIAN
    TANYA MORGAN
    TAXI DOLL
    TAYLOR SWIFT
    TEARS FOR FEARSTECH N9NE
    TED NUGENT
    TEDDY THOMPSON
    TEENA MARIE
    TERENCE BLANCHARD
    TERIYAKI BOYZ
    TERRIBLE THINGS
    TEYANA TAYLOR
    THE AIRBORNE TOXIC EVENT
    THE ALL-AMERICAN REJECTS
    THE AVETT BROTHERSTHE B-52S
    THE BAND PERRY
    U2
    UMLE
    UNIQUE
    UNLADYLIKE
    UNWRAPPED
    UTADA
    VALERIA GASTALDI
    VAN MORRISON
    VANESSA CARLTON
    VERSE SIMMONDS
    VINCE GILL
    VIOLENT SOHO
    VISTOSO BOSSES
    VITA CHAMBERS
    VOLBEAT
    VOZ DE MANDO
    WALE
    WAYNE SHORTER
    WE ARE THE FALLEN
    WEEZER
    WHITE LIES
    WILL.I.AM
    WILLIAM ORBIT
    WILLY NORTHPOLE
    WISIN & YANDEL
    WOLFMOTHER
    XAVIER RUDD
    XTREME
    YANNI
    YEAH YEAH YEAHS
    YELAWOLF
    YG
    YO GABBA GABBA!
    YOUNG JEEZY
    YOUNG LOVE
    YOUNG MONEY
    YOUR VEGAS
    YUKSEK
    YUMMY BINGHAM
    YUNG LA
    Z-RO & CHILL
    ZZ WARD
    .38 SPECIAL
    10 YEARS
    16 FRAMES
    2 CHAINZ24 HORAS
    3 DOORS DOWN
    4 MINUTE
    40 GLOCC/SPIDER LOC
    50 CENT
    9TH WARD

    Even if they're great artists, these guys have no right to smash the Internet.

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