German Judge Fines Father Because He Didn't Tell His Kid Not To Engage In Piracy
from the going-to-fine-you-so-hard-your-dad-will-feel-it dept
Time for German parents to have "The Talk" with their kids. Unprotected sexual activity is probably fine. But casual seeding? That's a problem.
TorrentFreak reports that a German court has decided to hold a parent responsible for his child's infringing activity. This doesn't have much to do with the rightsholder being unable to extract fines from a minor, but rather a perceived parenting failure.
In a case before a Leipzig court the defendant denied having downloaded an audiobook, as he wasn’t home at the time of the infringement. His wife and 11-year-old son were, and as the case progressed it became clear that the latter was the offender.
Nonetheless, in a rather unique verdict the court decided to hold the father liable. Although it’s not uncommon for parents to be held responsible for the actions of their children, the court specifically referenced a lack of anti-piracy education.
The father countered that he had instructed his child to be safe out there -- to not do anything "dangerous" or "download random things." Apparently, that's not good enough, not when entities like GEMA roam the post-fatherland, slapping kindergarten classes with licensing fees, and courts show a willingness to hold registrars responsible for the illegal activities of their registrants. It appears that parents are supposed to act as anti-piracy educators -- a burden that usually falls on rightsholders and their representation, many of which have lobbied for intellectual property instruction to be inserted somewhere between the second and third "R."
In her order the judge writes that for proper parental supervision, it’s required to “instruct a child on the illegality of participating in illegal file-sharing exchanges, and to explicitly prohibit this behavior.”
To do otherwise is legally "negligent," according to the court. And it hinted the father lied about the computer use instructions he gave his child, presumably in hopes of avoiding fines and fees.
This is a ridiculous conclusion. Courts aren't going to be policing parental anti-piracy instruction until well after the fact, if at all. At that point, all it takes is a sworn affidavit to shift the culpability back on the child, and, at that point, the court is just going to shift it back to the parents of the minor defendant. There's no statutory basis for this sort of instruction and it's something that's (a) better handled by rightsholders and (b) likely to be just as ineffective in preventing piracy.