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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Germany Suspended Court System For Entertainment Industry

Germany, which is usually stereotyped as rolling over when well-organized forces order them about, has recently suspended the country’s legal system in order to allow film studios to pursue people for large amounts of cash whenever they like.

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A few days ago, Munich Court has ruled that a person must have downloaded a flick named Violent Hooligans just because a movie studio insisted she had. In other words, the court preferred to ignore evidence that it was virtually impossible for the individual to have uploaded the movie onto eDonkey two years ago as she didn’t even have a PC and broadband hardware.

The person in question had subscribed to a two-year Internet and telephone package, but 6 months ago had flogged her PC and had even no email address. So, it is unclear how the alleged offense could have been done, even by a third party. However, as far as the German court believes, the movie studio was first to claim the offense, so the woman would have to pay up.

Although there have been plenty of things which could have caused the court a reasonable doubt, the defendant’s lawyer admitted that the court wasn’t interested. Usually, a rights owner has to prove who committed the copyright violation. That’s not easy for rights owners, as it is difficult to look into a thousand homes, and now it looks like the courts have decided they do not have to do that anymore.

The defendant’s lawyer explained that all a rights owner has to do is prove that a copyrighted work has been traded through a certain IP-address, and after this the accused has to prove her innocence. It seems that the standard is pretty high if it does not believe that lacking the equipment is an excuse. As a result, the woman must pay more than 650 euros in damages to the rights owner.

Until Germany is dragged kicking and screaming to the European Court to remember how a normal legal system should work, it looks like entertainment industry has the right to pick any name out of a phone book, accuse him or her of illegal file-sharing and the court will allow them to demand 650 euros from each. However, if you are from the entertainment industry yourself, and your staff was caught infringing the law, you can use any lame excuse you like and that one will have to be accepted by the court.

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