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Thousands of Germans Threatened With €250 Fines For Streaming Porn

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the paying-the-price dept.

Privacy 192

PolygamousRanchKid writes "Thousands of German users that have used a porn website to stream shows have received threatening letters from a local law firm demanding €250 ($344) per certain watched clips, Chip.de reports. Apparently, a Swiss-based firm that owns the content hosted by porn site Redtube has tasked a law firm with collecting fines for each of its shows that was streamed online in the region. The law firm has apparently received a go ahead from a local court, and as many as ten thousand warnings may have been set to users, for porn shows watched in August."

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Oh Dear. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668219)

I'd better cross Germany off the list countries to live in.

Re:Oh Dear. (2)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 8 months ago | (#45668321)

Can't blame you, considering that the folks doing the harassing are Swiss (and thus not even based in an EU member nation, so even that can't be used as an excuse).

Out of morbid curiosity - who uploaded the content, and why isn't the law firm chasing that guy? Oh, nevermind... bigger (and TBH, more reliable) revenue stream from chasing the poor horny bastards who sucked down the content instead.

Lesson for the folks in Germany... proxies are your friend.

Re:Oh Dear. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668463)

Can't blame you, considering that the folks doing the harassing are Swiss (and thus not even based in an EU member nation, so even that can't be used as an excuse).

The probem is not the Swiss, it's the German that allow it.

Out of morbid curiosity - who uploaded the content, and why isn't the law firm chasing that guy? Oh, nevermind... bigger (and TBH, more reliable) revenue stream from chasing the poor horny bastards who sucked down the content instead.

Lesson for the folks in Germany... proxies are your friend.

Collect money from one person vs. collect money from lots of people.

Ah, so every german is a judge. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668621)

And the Swiss people who are from the same country as the assholes who did this are responsible for this too, so you definitely can't choose Switzerland.

Now where was I?

Ah, yes, the DMCA like laws are lobbied by the USA content industries and therefore you clearly can't choose America.

Re:Oh Dear. (3, Interesting)

meerling (1487879) | about 8 months ago | (#45668571)

I remember seeing an article a while ago talking about distribution of media and technologies. Porn and Redtube specifically were mentioned. Apparently sites like Redtube are used by the media copyright owners to upload clips of their products for publicity. It's kind of like a movies trailers site for porn. So I have to wonder if this troll even has the proper authority to make such claims of redress, and if the clips they're targeting (if specified) were uploaded by the owners or not.

I don't know if Redtube really is a clip site, or it it's something more. I pretty much assume that porn sites are loaded with malware, but who knows.

By the way, as I've seen it mentioned that the troll lied to the judge and told them it was a p2p site, I wouldn't put any underhanded or illegal thing outside the realm of what they'd do.

Re:Oh Dear. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668707)

It more or less is a clip site. You have the option of streaming full length HD versions of some content, but for the most part a lot of clips are just labeled "Y does X, Y and Z" and doesn't even tell you what it's from.

I feel no pity for the people who stream porn though, just what exactly did you think would happen if you weren't buying the videos?

IMO, without reading any of the linked sites, I'm thinking that either
a) German law (again) regarding copyright is full of holes (This also happens on youtube, where your content will be perfectly fine, but then some company legally registered in Germany will block it, just in Germany.)
b) Parallel Import laws on who is legally "allowed" to localize/subtitle porn (You see this with some Anime too, but for the most part, you're probably going to get sued sooner or later if you're watching english subtitled anything inside a country that has licensed it in english.)

The thing with porn though, is who really gives a care about what language it's in? It would be interesting to figure out if it's RedTube members, anonymous people, or both who were sent the bills.

Re:Oh Dear. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45669137)

I feel no pity for the people who stream porn though, just what exactly did you think would happen if you weren't buying the videos?

You'd kill the porn industry, just like streaming music and movies will kill the music and movie industry.

Everyone should download child porn till the child pornographers go out of business!

Re:Oh Dear. (4, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | about 8 months ago | (#45669193)

"I feel no pity for the people who stream porn though, just what exactly did you think would happen if you weren't buying the videos?"

nothing? the people doing the infringing were the uploaders and the site.

how many people have been prosecuted for watching tv content on youtube? nobody.

but where did they get the list of viewers? from redtube? hacked someone? ???

Re:Oh Dear. (4, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | about 8 months ago | (#45668949)

Out of morbid curiosity - who uploaded the content, and why isn't the law firm chasing that guy?

There's a possibility that the porn company uploaded it themselves, just so that they could execute this plan.

Th **AA have been caught doing similar things, so it's not unprecedented.

Of course it's very possible that a normal user uploaded them too.

Re:Oh Dear. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668537)

If you live in Germany you already have a VPN to torrent the latest... mmm... open source and public domain content.

Re:Oh Dear. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668557)

Fuck man, i already did moved in...

Re:Oh Dear. (5, Interesting)

crabel (1862874) | about 8 months ago | (#45668613)

Not so fast. First of all, the lawyers "cheated". They avoided the term "streaming" in their applications to court and made it look like a typical filesharing case. The courts granted most of their applications because of "unbefugtem öffentlichen Zugänglichmachen über eine sogenannte Tauschbörse" that means "unauthorized sharing of files through a file sharing network". German internet law blogger Thomas Stadler explains in his blog, why their applications are invalid (for various reasons). German link: http://www.internet-law.de/2013/12/warum-die-streaming-abmahnungen-der-rechtsanwaelte-uc-unwirksam-sind.html [internet-law.de]

If the lawyers cheated ... (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 8 months ago | (#45669007)

... and if the judge is stupid enough to grant their cheats ...
 
Who should the Germans sue ?

Their government for appointing a stupid judge ?

The lawyers who cheated (I do see this as the responsibility of the government) ?

Of that stupid motherfucker that happens to be a judge ?

Re:If the lawyers cheated ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45669127)

... and if the judge is stupid enough to grant their cheats ...

Who should the Germans sue ?

Their government for appointing a stupid judge ?

The lawyers who cheated (I do see this as the responsibility of the government) ?

Of that stupid motherfucker that happens to be a judge ?

To be fair to the judge he probably has his hands full and if somebody is actively trying to cheat their way through the courts by camouflaging streaming as file-sharing it's understandable he might have missed it. I would be much more annoyed if this wasn't fixed post haste by punishing these bozos. Somebody might eventually even lose their permission to practice law if they keep this up. German courts are not very tolerant of fishing expeditions like this, a few years back some of the German banks took a case to the supreme court that revolved around whether or not they could charge a fee for the traditional monthly bank account overview reports to their customers. The court found that account overviews are a basic service that you provide to an account owner fee of charge, that this fact was obvious to even a layman and finally the judges stated that if these lawyers ever wasted the courts time with a case like this again there would be severe consequences. I thought the german lawyering classes had learned from that case but apparently there is an endless supply of morons with law degrees.

Re:If the lawyers cheated ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45669223)

... and if the judge is stupid enough to grant their cheats ...

Who should the Germans sue ?

The lawyers who cheated (I do see this as the responsibility of the government) ?

link in german [heise.de]

Not the judge, because he was deceived. The court already said they will change their prcedure to handle these requests.
It will be lawyers, no it already is the lawyers. The lawyer as well as the company behind him will be sued. Also the company who gathered the data will be sued. Because how did they get the data in the first place when the streaming hoster does not cooperate?

Also somebody already sued to make it clear that streaming is not illegal and he did not break the law.( "negative Feststellungsklage")

This is the case where they have gone too far and will receive some backlash.

Re:Oh Dear. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45669057)

However, it has to be pointed out that German law doesn't have a fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine. The lawyers "cheating" will impact how courts handle future requests of them (hopefully with more diligence) but it doesn't do anything for those whose IPs have already been acquired by the copyright owners.

Re: Oh Dear. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45669195)

Not only that. But there is alrrady a criminal investigation because of the misrepresentation. Source in german:

http://heise.de/newsticker/meldung/Abmahnungen-wegen-Redtube-Porno-Streaming-erste-juristische-Gegenwehr-2064084.html

Bahahahahaha (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668225)

It should tell you something when a business decides that 10,000 of its consumers are criminals. Your business model is broken, you can sue all you like but it still wont fix what's really broken.

Re:Bahahahahaha (5, Insightful)

Dr Max (1696200) | about 8 months ago | (#45668461)

It should tell you something when mearly going to a website and viewing something can make you a criminal. It's not like torrenting where you can argue that by downloading, you're also uploading to others; they just went to a site and pressed play. If a music station forgot to pay for a songs royalty, would the record label be able to sue anyone listening to that station at the time? What if a billboard had an unauthorised copyrighted image on it, is every motorist going past it going to get a letter and a fine?

Re:Bahahahahaha (1)

3247 (161794) | about 8 months ago | (#45668659)

It should tell you something when mearly going to a website and viewing something can make you a criminal. It's not like torrenting where you can argue that by downloading, you're also uploading to others; they just went to a site and pressed play.

German courts kann tell the difference. No joking, that's what happened.

Re:Bahahahahaha (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 months ago | (#45668685)

So they can also tell the difference between butter and I can't believe it ain't butter?

I doubt the German court even understood what it ruled over, to be honest. I know their technical experience quite well, and I wouldn't trust the average judge to know more than how to press play to watch some porn. But he probably needs a bailiff for that too, he usually does when he needs to watch some kind of evidence on a computer...

Re:Bahahahahaha (1)

fatphil (181876) | about 8 months ago | (#45669207)

Obligatory: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VgwxKW0J6I

It's not forgetting in this case (2)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 8 months ago | (#45668895)

The true analogy would be: Would you, as a judge, allow listeners to a pirate radio station (not certain if the listeners know it's a pirate station or not) to get sued by the record companies for loyalties. The site that was streaming the content most likely was aware of the fact that they were streaming content they did not have rights for.and that's malicious intent.

Re:Bahahahahaha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45669165)

It should tell you something when mearly going to a website and viewing something can make you a criminal.

What does it tell you? In some countries if you went to a website and viewed porn you'd be considered a criminal and in most countries if you went to a website and viewed child porn you'd be considered a criminal. Even if you were found innocent by the court ("doing research") you are likely to still be considered a criminal by the public.

Re:Bahahahahaha (4, Interesting)

Vlad_the_Inhaler (32958) | about 8 months ago | (#45668593)

That *is* their business model.
I read up on this yesterday (German Language) [spiegel.de] and the situation is more complicated than it seems.
The providers affected are all over Germany, so various local courts were involved. The one in Köln really screwed things up: what the people are supposed to have done is Downloaded the file(s), what they were accused of was Sharing them and Köln went along with this. The difference is that the provider does not have to give out addresses on Downloads but they do if Sharing is involved. The actual "Abmahnung" letters which went out said nothing about Sharing at all. The Law Firm based their claim on the Downloads being in Cache so they were available for others. To make things worse, the largest provider in Germany (T-Online) is based in Köln. Other courts rejected that argument, others asked questions and the Lawyers withdrew their request.

I have a related problem at the moment - a couple of years ago someone accused me of sharing some other porno film, again T-Online was involved. My wlan is wpa2 with a 63-byte random, generated mixed upper/lower string and it accepts only one Mac address, I have checked both PCs which were on at the time for Trojans / Virii with a bootable scanner and there was nothing. Under German law there is no redress - if they claim it then I must have done it. I'm fighting this one out at the moment.

For me this is a reason not to use T-Online. My main account is now somewhere else but I *need* Internet for when I work at home and two independent providers (Cable and DSL) made sense back when the Cable provider was unreliable. I think I'm going to have to dump T-Online which means dumping Telekom for my phone.

Re:Bahahahahaha (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668845)

I suggest using a VPN in Germany. With all the legal insanity and everybody and their mother logging traffic you're well advised to hide your IP. Plus with all the geo-locks the "German" internet is way too restricted. I use airvpn.org. Inexpensive and dozens of servers in various countries. Only downside is they're not quite as fast as my 50mps connection.

Re:Bahahahahaha (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668893)

Every time some pretentious douche says "virii" god kills a kitten. The plural of virus is viruses. Please cease being a pretentious douche. Thank you.

Also, the plural of box is not boxen. Further, your desktop computer and/or server isn't a box, stop calling it that.

IP address matching flawed then? (2)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 8 months ago | (#45668931)

It appears that T-Online linked an IP in a subpoena to you. But 1) Was that the actual IP address at that time that was used to share that film? 2) Was that IP address actually assigned to your system? Mistakes are easy, I'm assuming you already asked for a full list of all IP addresses assigned to your connection for a full year before and after this incident took place with *all* log file entries they have on you? Any inconsistency or missing/improbable timestamp in that will help you proof that they don't have a perfect administration. Also ask for full log files from the company providing logs, not just your own data, plus a list of all software used on the systems they detected it with. Get the full setup and configuration details for their time/NTP config. If they won't provide those, claim you are not given the data you need to prove your innocence and they simply don't have adequate log files or are serious about getting the time stamps right in their log files.

Re:IP address matching flawed then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45669071)

That doesn't work. You are talking about civil law where probabilities decide cases and your innocence is not assumed by default. Showing that it is possible they made a mistake won't do anything for you, you would have to show that it is very probable that they made a mistake when correlating IP and user.

Re:Bahahahahaha (2)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about 8 months ago | (#45669047)

Are you aware that some trackers give out fake IP addresses to foil those who try to attack the working of the torrent. If all the company has against you is a time and an IP address then they don't have enough - insufficient evidence. The company has to prove that two-way communications happened between your computer and another sharing the files, not the 1-way communication which is ip-address only aka fake.

Re:Bahahahahaha (1)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about 8 months ago | (#45669153)

That is worthy of a counter-lawsuit, if you were to crowd-fund one, I'd gladly chip in. Counter lawsuits need to happen more often because it seems that these cases of extortion are happening more often, probably because of the insane statutory damages payouts awarded in the USA.

Re:Bahahahahaha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668747)

It should tell you something when a business decides that 10,000 of its consumers are criminals.

Consumer is not the same thing as a customer.
They don't give a rats ass about the consumer, before and after the purchase is done you are irrelevant to them. It is customers they want.

Re:Bahahahahaha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45669113)

It should tell you something when 10,000 slash dotters believe some ridiculous story. You think a court would give "the go ahead" to a private firm to send out fines?

Was it advertised as free? (4, Informative)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about 8 months ago | (#45668229)

Shouldn't the company be going after the porn site that streamed it? Anyone know why a German court would OK this?

Re:Was it advertised as free? (4, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 8 months ago | (#45668269)

It's much harder to shame a pornsite into paying €2.500.000 damages than it is to shame 10.000 people into paying €250.
I don't know about Germany, but it some european countries, just downloading something isn't illegal.
But a court case doesn't have to have merit if the damage they can do (publically shaming somebody by exposing their sexual tastes) and lawyer fees required to defend are much greater than the $250 blackmail money asked for.

Personally, I'm wondering how this law firm got the contact addresses.

Re:Was it advertised as free? (5, Interesting)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | about 8 months ago | (#45668303)

I don't know about Germany, but it some european countries, just downloading something isn't illegal.

It isn't illegal in Germany as well. Pretty much all lawyers except the ones sending the letters
think those letters to be a hilarious. They all advise to ignore the letters and wait to be taken to
court (which almost certainly will never happen).
Sadly, it will probably scare enough people into paying to nonetheless be profitable.

Personally, I'm wondering how this law firm got the contact addresses.

Well-informed speculation is that they used ad tracking on redtube to get IP addresses (external
ad servers see the request IP and the referer string...).

Then they tricked the courts into assuming distribution on behalf of said IP to get a court order for
the client's identity. I'm not exaggerating: The court filings very carefully avoid the word "streaming"
and imply downloading and P2P distribution without actually saying so.

Only about two thirds of the courts actually fell for it, but each one was good for thousands of identities.

Re:Was it advertised as free? (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about 8 months ago | (#45668325)

Yes thats the fun part, how where the ip's in one jurisdiction found?

Re:Was it advertised as free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668365)

> Then they tricked the courts into assuming distribution on behalf of said IP to get a court order for
the client's identity

How's that the court are not voiding those orders or the results of those orders...

Re:Was it advertised as free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668391)

It's too late. The identities are already in the hands of the trolls. Similar things have been happening with bootleg books for hundreds of years, and online content more recently. And the court is not *about* to admit to screwing up if they don't have to. By getting the cases filed in a different jurisdiction, one judge is not going to embarrass another judge by saying the warrants or court orders were improper.

Re:Was it advertised as free? (4, Insightful)

Kickasso (210195) | about 8 months ago | (#45668467)

Use an ad blocker, kids.

Re:Was it advertised as free? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45669055)

Nope. If you want your favorite free legal sites to shutdown, don't be a dickbag by blocking the ads.

On the other hand if you're doing something illegal, why the hell not be more of a dickback and block the ads too.

Re:Was it advertised as free? (2)

chilvence (1210312) | about 8 months ago | (#45669241)

Fuck off, they can find some other way to make money. Or die. Still better than ads.

Re:Was it advertised as free? (4, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 8 months ago | (#45668493)

Isn't deliberately misleading the court itself an offense?

Re:Was it advertised as free? (4, Interesting)

garry_g (106621) | about 8 months ago | (#45668545)

That's another point of criticism - while P2P or download is a deliberate action, leading to local storage of files, streaming videos from a free site that is not by definition a pirate site makes it near impossible for users to know they are breaking copyright laws ...
Which is why the letters to the court left out the word "streaming" - for streaming, no court order would have been issued (most likely, anyway). Which, in turn, should get the lawyer knowingly misleading the court disbarred or at least fined ...

Re:Was it advertised as free? (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about 8 months ago | (#45668611)

Only about two thirds of the courts actually fell for it, but each one was good for thousands of identities.

And the one third which didn't fall for it didn't think about warning the other 2 thirds? Amazing...

Almost as bad as when a Luxembourgish bank [www.bcee.lu] deployed broken Luxtrust software, and 6 weeks later another bank [www.post.lu] deployed the exact same bug... (and that long after a fixed version of the software had already been made by Luxtrust). Amazingly they don't communicate with each other...

To the second bank's credit: at least they were faster to deploy the fix, taking only 9 months, rather than the 18 months that the first bank needed...

Re:Was it advertised as free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668953)

"Almost as bad"? Courts are not in competition with each other. Banks, on the other hand, are.

Re:Was it advertised as free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45669215)

Yet another good reason to use adblock, ghostery, whatever.

Re:Was it advertised as free? (2)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 8 months ago | (#45668335)

Personally, I'm wondering how this law firm got the contact addresses.

Odds are perfect they chased IP addys, combined them with date+time stamps, then got the ISPs to help them out in that regard; it's pretty much the only way they could get much of anything like that. Now whether the ISPs helped out due to some German equivalent of the DMCA (or suchlike) or were paid to? Dunno...

Re:Was it advertised as free? (4, Informative)

Sique (173459) | about 8 months ago | (#45668353)

It was helped by a gross misrepresentation of facts before the court: Suggesting distribution while never explicitely saying so. For about 1/4 of the letters requesting the court to allow for identification of the persons behind the list of IP addresses, the requests were denied due to missing evidence. 3/4 nevertheless were agreed on, and there is much speculation going on if the court has messed up downloading and distribution, helped by a very wishi-washi formulated letter of request.

Re:Was it advertised as free? (1)

garry_g (106621) | about 8 months ago | (#45668555)

The interesting part also is that all the requests were sent to the same court, which in turn had multiple internal offices handle the requests ... so, as usual, interpreting the law once again differs between the people ...

Re:Was it advertised as free? (1)

Vlad_the_Inhaler (32958) | about 8 months ago | (#45668607)

I don't know if your 1/4 and 3/4 figures are correct, but the problem was that the Court in Köln rubber-stamped this crap and that T-Online (the largest provider in Germany) is based in Köln.

Re:Was it advertised as free? (1)

Sique (173459) | about 8 months ago | (#45668627)

As far as I know, of the 89 requests, 27 were denied. This is is somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3.

Re:Was it advertised as free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668867)

Now I feel really bad for using all those p0wned open German proxy servers to view Redtube,...

Re:Was it advertised as free? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668293)

This techdirt article from a couple of years ago [techdirt.com] suggests a precedent was set then that viewing a streaming file is considered to be making a copy of it, and therefore the viewers are also liable for copyright infringement. Stupid, but this is sometimes what happens when old laws are applied to scenarios they weren't intended for and the court doesn't have enough room to manoeuvre out of it. I don't read German well enough to look at the decision and see whether it suggests that the court tried to find a way around a badly phrased law, or if they were just being vindictive, but it seems likely enough that they tried and failed.

Re:Was it advertised as free? (4, Informative)

righteousness (3421867) | about 8 months ago | (#45668323)

Unlike the US and the UK, Germany has a civil law system in contrast to the common law system used in certain countries like the US and the UK. Therefore judges in Germany are not bounded by decision made in former rulings that are not clearly codified in written legislation.

Re:Was it advertised as free? (5, Informative)

fazig (2909523) | about 8 months ago | (#45668367)

According to more recent reports (German) [golem.de] the Court was fooled by this alleged law firm. They've presented the incident to the court as peer to peer file-sharing of copyright protected data, the Court ruled accordingly.

Re:Was it advertised as free? (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 months ago | (#45668691)

Because of two things: The average German judge doesn't know jack about technology and the law company abused that ignorance.

They said "download" in their lawsuit and the judge went "Oh, it's that where the higher courts decided for the plaintiff, like that Pirate Bay thing, so I guess I should, too".

Oh Germany (4, Informative)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | about 8 months ago | (#45668235)

The status of German copyright laws is ridiculous. Any law firm can send out threatening letters, literally saying "pay us X Euros or we will take you to court". It's like the Mob.

Re:Oh Germany (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668279)

The status of German copyright laws is ridiculous. Any law firm can send out threatening letters, literally saying "pay us X Euros or we will take you to court". It's like the Mob.

And the difference between that and anyone else's law is what precisely? Of course law firms get to send out threatening letters. It's what they do. Then the courts get to throw them out of court afterwards. That's what the court is for.

Re:Oh Germany (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668343)

And the difference between that and anyone else's law is what precisely?

Let me help you there: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abmahnung [wikipedia.org]

The difference has to do with standing, i.e. who can actually bring a lawsuit. This is a misfeature specific to German law, rooted in a culture of conformity and Obrigkeitshörigkeit: if you stick out, lots of bystanders make it their business to force you to conform, and the law encourages and reflects that culture.

(Argumentativeness despite ignorance, and irrational belief in one's national superiority, are other misfeatures of German culture, so you will doubtlessly respond with a litany about how (1) this isn't true despite the evidence, or (2) how other countries are worse than Germany, or (3) how beneficial all of this is and how stupid foreigners are for not seeing that. Take your pick and save us both some time and respond just with a number.)

Re:Oh Germany (1, Interesting)

Sique (173459) | about 8 months ago | (#45668377)

Obrigkeitshörigkeit has nothing to do with this, as it is not the Obrigkeit sending the letter, it's your peers. Conformity yes, I agree.

Re:Oh Germany (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668779)

The Obrigkeit is responsible for creating, maintaining, and encouraging a culture of conformity, because what the German Obrigkeit has always feared is people who question and challenge it. They figured out that the best way to control a population is to have it police itself, whether it's through Stasi informants or an army of lawyers that act as police, judge, and executioner in one. And instead of rebelling, Germans obey, as they have always done (although there seems to be some slow change in attitudes).

Re:Oh Germany (3, Interesting)

garry_g (106621) | about 8 months ago | (#45668581)

Those letters, "Abmahnung", are different as they have been used for many years, especially ever since computers got popular ... some of the most famous cases initially came to light when one lawyer from Munich, Günter Freiherr von Gravenreuth, sent those letters to hundreds or thousands of (mostly) school children for them swapping home computer games ... what made it bad was that it turned out to be some sort of entrapment in many cases ... i.e., the infamous "Tanja" or other cover identities were used to trick children into sending him pirated software, then used that to threaten the kids with suing, which could be avoided by paying the sums listed in the "Abmahnung". While at that time there were quite a few cases, it was nowhere close to what is going on nowadays ... those letters have become an easy income for some German lawyers, with little work and nice 4-digit income per letter ... often, they are also less attackable than in this case, where multiple factual and technical mistakes were made ..

Re:Oh Germany (4, Insightful)

hweimer (709734) | about 8 months ago | (#45668693)

In Germany, a lawyer sending a cease-and-desist letter can ask to get paid for his services from the recipient of the letter. However, the fees associated with this (making up most of the €250 in this case) are essentially lump sums set by law that are unrelated to the acutal amount of time spent for each case. If a lawyer sends out thousands of letters, this means huge profits, which are often shared with the rightsholder through illegal kickback schemes.

This is a well-known problem, but most lawmakers (who were often legal professionals before), prosecutors, and judges see copyright violations as the bigger issue so they tend to welcome this process as a private-sector law enforcement despite the fraud that is usually associated with it.

Re:Oh Germany (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668349)

Like?

If it racketeers like a duck..

Re:Oh Germany (0)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 8 months ago | (#45668549)

You can shoot it during duck hunting seasons?

Re:Oh Germany (1)

wmspider (1333299) | about 8 months ago | (#45668385)

I believe that's not restricted to law firms. Anyoune can send a letter telling someone to pay up or they'll sue them. Doesn't mean they have any change in court though.
The claim is that the users of the streaming site were storing, and thus copying, the copyrighted content, which is illegal in Germany. However, that "storing" refers to the caching necessary to play the content while streaming. By that definition, every ISP would be infringing copyright laws everyday too, since, at some point, the packets going through their routers are stored in memory.
I don't believe this would be a valid claim in court. However, IANAL...

Re:Oh Germany (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 8 months ago | (#45668503)

That's the case in most countries. You can threaten to she fir any reason and even go to court. The victim has to turn up and get it thrown out or face losing to a default judgement.

Re:Oh Germany (1)

pantaril (1624521) | about 8 months ago | (#45668573)

The status of copyright laws anywhere is ridiculous. Any law firm can send out threatening letters, literally saying "pay us X currency units or we will take you to court". It's like the Mob.

There, FTFY

They're serious? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668237)

I'm lost here, isn't the company behind this 'Redtube' website legally responsible for copyright infringement, and all resultant penalties, instead of the individual viewers?

Re:They're serious? (3, Informative)

gweihir (88907) | about 8 months ago | (#45668829)

The courts were tricked: The lawyers made it look like this was about file-sharing, and there the upload part can make you liable for distribution in Germany.
But there are some other peculiarities, namely how they go the IP addresses. It seems they may have gotten illegally or via fake ads on the site itself. That would then not prove anybody streamed anything. It may also be illegal to state people streamed to a court when there is no proof anybody streamed anything. Almost certainly some employee of some "piracy analysis" company committed perjury.

Bottom line is that this will hopefully cost the layers involved their accreditation and make them liable for legal cost of the ones targeted. Fees are unfortunately capped and so low that this will not pay off. The total damage is only about $15, the rest is lawyers fees.Incidentally, sending out these "Abmahnungen" en-mass, but claiming full legal fees on each (instead $5 or so) is also illegal, but a court has to determine these are mass-produced. (An "Abmahnung" is basically a form of legalized fraud by threatening people and demanding fees that only lawyers are allowed to commit. One more reason to hate that profession...)

The consent in the German legal community seems to be that these people got greedy and stupid and will fail. Problem is that if anybody pays, the fees goes directly to Switzerland (instead to the lawyers) and will there fore be hard or impossible to recover, as Switzerland is not part of the EU.

Garmans ay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668251)

... apparently the fines relate to the porn not being dirty enough.

Info about "The Archive AG" (4, Informative)

bradley13 (1118935) | about 8 months ago | (#45668285)

Three links of possible interest, concerning "The Archive AG" - mostly in German:

Company information [moneyhouse.ch]

Article in the Handelszeitung [handelszeitung.ch]

Web site [the-archive.ch]

The address appears (on Google maps) to be more than just a mailbox. The two people running it are Germans - it's not clear why their company is in Switzerland. Downloading in Switzerland is legal, by the way, justified by the fact that we all pay these surcharges on empty media.

For anyone who has been threatened by The Archive AG, the article in the Handelszeitung includes a reference to an IT attorney who is apparently advising many people in this case.

Re:Info about "The Archive AG" (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 8 months ago | (#45668339)

The two people running it are Germans - it's not clear why their company is in Switzerland.

Likely because Switzerland is not an EU member, and thus businesses based there aren't under the EU microscope as much?

Re:Info about "The Archive AG" (5, Informative)

mystuff (1088543) | about 8 months ago | (#45668585)

This was reported [tweakers.net] on the Dutch site Tweakers as being a hoax, as reported by the layyers office itself here [urmann.com] . Translations here [google.com] and here respectively. [google.com]

What do you call a bunch of unhappy Germans? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668289)

Sauerkrauts.

Strange parallels (1)

jargonburn (1950578) | about 8 months ago | (#45668305)

Maybe their reasoning is something along the lines of it being too difficult to prosecute/litigate the creators/originators, so instead go after the consumers! You know, like with child porn?

Re:Strange parallels (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 8 months ago | (#45668509)

You know, like with child porn?

That's not analogous and you know it.

Re:Strange parallels (1)

fnj (64210) | about 8 months ago | (#45668979)

Actually we don't know it. Perhaps you could enlighten us on why it is not analogous.

Re:Strange parallels (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 8 months ago | (#45669069)

I agree - there's always the easy way these days, tag it as "child porn" and people will bring out the feathers and tar and all chances of a reasonable handling in court are gone.

Re:Strange parallels (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 8 months ago | (#45669225)

Because mere possession of CP by any method warrants criminal investigation. In this case, it's not the fact that the viewers possess the videos - in fact, they probably don't, because they streamed them - but the method by which they received them which has led to them being pursued - and not by the authorities as would be the case for child porn, but by a corporation.

It would also seem to be reasonable to suggest that the videos were likely to be believed, by the viewers, to be legitimately provided, which would not be the case for CP (again, for reasons of illegality as opposed to copyright violation).

But perhaps I judged jargonburn's post too literally, and by "strange parallel" he was actually just highlighting the inevitable "bad analogy" that would crop up somewhere along the line.

Misread this at first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668315)

When I first saw the article title I thought it read "Steaming Porn" instead. My mind went wandering where I didn't need it to go...

Re:Misread this at first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668341)

I thought RedTube would be some kind of North Korean propaganda website. All Kim all the time.

Not legal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668373)

Looking at the reactions, people are either naive or not serious. This has nothing to do with who is legally responsible for viewing the content. This is a clear trolling/blackmail attempt. The law firm expects people to be so embarrassed that they rather pay that defend themselves legally. Of course a real law suit doesn't have a chance but the threat of exposing the names of the German house fathers may be enough to let them cough up the money.

99% men (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668383)

will get those letters. The law firm should make an 'honest' mistake and address it to Ms .

Similar case (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668483)

http://it.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caso_Peppermint
Back in 2006 a similar case, but with music rather than porn, happend in Italy. At the end the the IP addr mining attivity has been recognized as illegal and the company was condamned.

Re:Similar case (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 8 months ago | (#45669077)

And that is not a problem, it's just one step back and two forward for them. "Oops I did it again!"

Now that summary is SO wrong... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668533)

According to a report on heise and some discussions by people who received those:Their browsers were made to connect to certain reddube.com (not rettube, mind you) urls by a skimmed traffic site. So Site A wants to earn some money from their site and Service X says: "Add a link to this image from us to your website, you don,t even have to place it somewhere visible!". Site A does so and whenever a user visits the site, the browser sends a request to servers from Service X which redirect then to Site B, which might need some traffic and wants to get it in shady ways. So the users didn't have to visit redtube at all and some guy even looked into his looks and went: "I visited redtube, but not that video. I was redirected to that after visiting another site!", which shows that its not the "uh, i don't watch porn, no, no..."-reflex speaking.
Also, there are several lawsuits against this swiss based guys on the way. What they're doing is fraud. Fraud's not legal, you know? Not even in germany, and not even when porn is involved...

Trying to make a buck... (1)

no-body (127863) | about 8 months ago | (#45668539)

Seems it is a lawyer outfit or company trying to squeeze money from people by trying to embarrass them by maybe disclosing their name, address etc.
There was one case apparently where a person got a court order to stop it for her.

There are a lot of open questions - court seemed to mix up downloads with streaming and how the IP/name info etc. got created is another good question.
What also seems to happen is that other crooks are sending fake cease and desist emails (or something like that) to catch a ride on this..

Criminal investigation against the lawyer (3, Informative)

xororand (860319) | about 8 months ago | (#45668677)

It seems that the law firm got the IP addresses by running ads on RedTube
There's an ongoing investigation and criminal complaint [golem.de] against the responsible lawyer Daniel Sebastian.

Re:Criminal investigation against the lawyer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45669135)

Anyone has contact info to Daniel Sebastian, facebook page? Things always works both ways.

mod 0p (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668709)

Raymond in 4is

Anyone know how to reach the judge? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 months ago | (#45668715)

I know two things: First, the judge who made the decision has been conned by the weasel wording of the lawsuit. The lawyers must have known what they're doing. If you so consistently avoid mentioning that it's a streaming site and try to convince a court that it's a page similar to TPB, you won't be able to feign ignorance. You tried to cheat the court.

Judges generally don't really like being had. They really hate it when they notice you try to trick them into ruling their way. I know that one too.

Maybe it could help to send him an eye opener or two? He might want to have a word or two with the lawyers involved. Mostly because judges also don't like being the laughing stock of a whole trade, because they ruled over it and seeming like they have no idea what they ruled over.

Even if it won't change this verdict, a certain judge might be less inclined to side with the shysters in the future...

Mafia strikes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668773)

we had here similar blackmail attempts. company has created a website where they offered VLC (yes the player) for download. The people who filled their personal info (there was a bait - free lottery to win an iphone and ipad) got an invoice of 100 EUR, because in the conditions it said that the subscriber of the website is liable to pay one time fee of 100 EUR.

Shema Yisrael! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45668889)

> a Swiss-based firm that owns the content hosted by porn site Redtube

Owns. Case over. The protection of private property is sancto-sanct! Streamers need to pay, because they live in a capitalist Germany. A soon as communism or nazism gets re-introduced in Germany (the two are essentially the same) people can start having things, like conficated jewish goods, for free. Only don't complain, if they eventually come to fetch you too and there will be nobody to speak up on your behalf... (because there is no democracy and rule of law without private property and vica versa).

Nothing new (2)

andyteleco (1090569) | about 8 months ago | (#45668933)

This has happened before. Copyright infringement trolling is a very lucrative business in Germany. There have been cases of lawyers sending out thousands of letters demanding payments of over a thousand euros, of which about 75% consisted in legal fees. At the end virtually noboby was taken to court for this, but if only 10% of the recipients pays up (I'm guessing the number was higher though) it already means a very high ROI for simply doing a mass-mailing.

It's also very lucrative for VPN providers, as their market in Germany is constantly increasing.

How did they figure out the people? (2)

IRWolfie- (1148617) | about 8 months ago | (#45668971)

How did they get the IP addresses of people using a streaming website that they don't operate (and I doubt the records where handed over by this non-German website)?

Re:How did they figure out the people? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45669227)

How did they get the IP addresses of people using a streaming website that they don't operate (and I doubt the records where handed over by this non-German website)?

NSA

It's their side business for when the US Government shuts down.

That's a criminal offense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45669091)

The law firm scammed the court into ordering the ISP to identify IP addresses by claiming Redtube is a peer-to-peer filesharing network, and "obviously illegal" in a manner that participants would be aware of.

Since neither of these are true, it sounds like someone is due to get their license revoked for gross malpractice, and may be subject to criminal charges for lying to a court.

Porn Using Hollywood and Software Tactics (1)

retroworks (652802) | about 8 months ago | (#45669115)

"If your website doesn't remove all of my clients copyrighted material immediately, I won't sue you, I will sue all your clients." When the "I agree to view porn" box (ahem, I've been told one has to click to enter those sites) may soon become a EULA.
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