Offsite Article: Disgraceful German lawyers send out harassing copyright letters to people who have merely watched videos on a tube site
11th December 2013 See article
Offsite Article: Lawyers Go Down the Tube
German Law Firm: Redtube a test case for more end-user 'fines'
18th December 2013 See article
Update: Threats have no legal basis
22nd December 2013. See article
During the past few weeks an estimated 30,000 Internet users received threatening letters from a lawfirm claiming that they needed to pay hard cash in compensation after illegally watching adult movies on the hugely popular streaming site RedTube.
But in a turnaround described as spectacular by a lawfirm involved in the dispute, a court has admitted that those individuals' personal details should never have been handed over.
Threatening letters from copyright trolls usually take pretty much the same format -- You've downloaded or shared our content using BitTorrent networks and for that we will take you to court. However, it doesn't have to be that way. For the payment of
a few hundred to a few thousand dollars or euros, we can make this all go away.
Earlier this month, however, there was a new twist to this awful business. Many thousands of individuals began receiving letters from German lawfirm U & C acting on behalf of a Swiss company called The Archive AG. Their claim was that letter
recipients had watched several adult titles on the hugely popular adult streaming site RedTube.
Just to put things into perspective, that's like watching a clip on YouTube and someone coming along with a demand that you pay them cash -- a very worrying development indeed.
Wilde Beuger Solmecke, a law firm that specializes in defending Internet users from the threats of copyright trolls, has been working hard on the case and estimates that around 30,000 people have received these demands.
All along the lawfirm has insisted that there is no legal basis for the threats and now, quite amazingly, the court that has been dealing with the case has admitted there may have been a major screw up.
After receiving at least 50 full complaints, the Cologne Regional Court has been reexamining the entire process and now, according to lawyer Christian Solmecke, the Court has made a spectacular turnaround.
Apparently, some of the judges who issued the information decisions now -- after knowing the complete situation -- have changed their mind (or for the first time formed a complete opinion) and decided that streaming is no longer illegal, Solmecke
For those concerned, the application of this standard would have the advantage that they will not have to worry about the legality of a platform in the future. We have held this legal opinion for a long time.
The Cologne Regional Court's decision will be welcomed by all letter recipients but for the Court's next move we shall have to wait until at least January. The hope is that all 30,000 individuals won't have to pay a penny and that copyright troll heads
will roll. Definitely one to watch.
Update: Court injunction
25th December 2013. See article
Many thousands of Internet users set to be targeted by an adult content copyright troll can today breathe a sigh of relief. Streaming video portal RedTube, the site where targets were said to have viewed unauthorized content, has obtained an injunction
to stop the lawfirm involved sending out any more threats. Company vice president Alex Taylor says such invasions of privacy for monetary gain can never be accepted.
Threats to initiate legal action on the basis of petty copyright infringement offenses are one of the scourges of the modern Internet. To date as many as a couple of million households worldwide have been targeted by this potentially lucrative racket.
The latest scandal to hit Internet users involves users of streaming video site RedTube. Traditionally those simply viewing content on YouTube-like sites have been considered immune to rightsholder threats, but early December thousands of RedTube users
received letters demanding 250 euros to make lawsuits go away.
The controversial episode is turning into somewhat of a scandal, not least concerning the mystery of how the lawfirm involved, U & C acting on behalf of a Swiss company called The Archive AG, obtained users' IP address. RedTube insists it has handed
no information to third parties.
With U & C warning that its first wave of 10,000+ letters is just the beginning, RedTube has been fighting back and now has good news for its customers. The adult video site has obtained a temporary injunction against The Archive AG from the Regional
Court of Hamburg, meaning that no more letters demanding payment may be sent out.
Alex Taylor of RedTube said:
This decision is a victory not only for the users of Redtube, but for every person who visits streaming websites. It is a clear message that the use of personal information and invasions of privacy for purely financial interests will not be tolerated.
Update: Not illegal unless higher courts find otherwise
16th January 2013. See review
The controversial RedTube case in Germany has provoked an interesting response from the Ministry of Justice. Although it says the question will ultimately be answered by the European Court, the Ministry says that it believes the mere viewing of copyright
infringing streams is not illegal under current law.
With the controversy storming on the question was posed to the German Government and the Ministry of Justice has just delivered its opinion. The Ministry concludes that the mere viewing of a copyrighted stream without permission is not in itself an act
of copyright infringement.
This opinion puts the Government completely at odds with the adult companies behind the thousands of cash settlement letters sent out last year. It also draws a line in the sand between streaming (legal) and regular downloads (illegal).
According to the Ministry of Justice's opinion the watching of illicit movies on a browser-based streaming site now appears to be permissible (temporary copy), whereas downloading a movie which is stored on a hard drive for later viewing (reproduction)
However, the question of streaming legality is one yet to be decided in Germany's highest court, and according to the Government the definitive ruling will arrive from outside its borders.
Whether the use of streaming offerings constitutes a reproduction or violates the rights of authors and holders of related rights has not yet been clarified by the supreme court, the Ministry told Parliament, adding that the question will
ultimately be answered by the European Court of Justice .
In the meantime the announcement will be welcomed by thousands of RedTube users who should be further emboldened not to hand over their hard earned cash.
Offsite Article: Also in Germany: Broadband subscribers are not responsible for copyright infractions of others
16th January 2013. See article