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German Prosecutors Won't Help RIAA Counterpart

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the will-never-happen-here dept.

The Courts 199

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "A German court decision ruled that the European counterpart to the RIAA cannot invoke criminal proceedings over petty file sharing incidents. The goal was to to find out from ISPs the identity of alleged file-sharing subscribers; the requests have been refused as the judge saw the the proceedings as not in the 'public interest', and little or no economic damage was shown to have been caused to the record companies. Offering a few copyright-protected music tracks via a P2P network client was 'a petty offense,' the court declared. Within days, German prosecutors have now indicated that they will no longer permit the use of 'criminal proceedings' to procure subscriber information."

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199 comments

If only... (5, Insightful)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#20089299)

Now if only American court rooms cared at all about the "public interest", rather than the special interests that have so much power, maybe we'd start seeing similar sound-mindedness.

OT Tags broken? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20089571)

Tags vanish into the ether after saving today. Just me?

Re:If only... (3, Funny)

monkeyboythom (796957) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090061)

"golf clap for our .DE brethren"

Does this mean there will be a pirate ship anchoring off the coast of Germany any time soon?

Re:If only... (2, Insightful)

cepayne (998850) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090771)

In North America, suing individuals has become an actual business
model and accepted practice. As much as the kids that believe it
it is acceptable to download music tracks without paying for them.

Touche'.... I think we are at loggerheads.

Re:If only... (2, Interesting)

thefirelane (586885) | more than 6 years ago | (#20091111)

It sounds nice when something happens you like, but in reality the courts are simply there to interpret the law as written... not just do whatever they feel is best. We have lawmakers who are supposed to work 'in the public interest'. Admittedly, they are not... but fixing that should be the priority, not making some new legislative/executive branch combo out of the court system.

Re:If only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20091555)

Today, Germany - tomorrow, the world!

Where these cases belong... (5, Insightful)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 6 years ago | (#20089445)

The RIAA should be forced to take these cases to Small Claims Court, where they would have little to no subpoena power, be limited in the amount of award, and have to explain to crusty, overworked judges why they're wasting their time.

Re:Where these cases belong... (5, Insightful)

Cadallin (863437) | more than 6 years ago | (#20089521)

Precisely. Can you imagine the disgust in a judges voice the first time he hears one of these, "You mean you're suing over the equivalent of sharing a song taped from radio?" Dismissal. With Prejudice.

Re:Where these cases belong... (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090645)

Small claims court is for civil trials, not criminal.

If people are going to make grandiose statements like this it would be best to understand a bit about the legal system.

Re:Where these cases belong... (1)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090737)

Yesss... I meant they should be civil cases, and in a minor court.

Bravo for reading more into my statement than I meant.

Re:Where these cases belong... (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#20091073)

While it could be done in such a manner I would have concerns if I were the RIAA:

1. By pursuing civil action first how does that help or hinder a potential criminal proceeding?

2. Could I get as much help from law enforcement since I wasn't charging the defendant with a criminal charge?

Think what you will of the RIAA but the legal aspects of not hitting the accused with criminal charges could be damaging to a case against them. But I an not a lawyer, that's why I'm asking these kinds of questions.

Re:Where these cases belong... (1)

JohnBailey (1092697) | more than 6 years ago | (#20091533)

But isn't this exactly the point? The RIAA and their international counterparts are using the criminal court system to pursue misdeeds that attract disproportionate punishment under criminal law. To take it a bit further, why not prosecute patent infringement under criminal law too? Both involve the infringement of someone's IP, and both are based on estimated losses calculated by the person or group claiming the loss.

Can you imagine a bunch of police officers breaking down Microsoft's gates and storming in to arrest the media player team for using unlicensed IP of Alcatel/Lucient? Then in court Microsoft having to pay a comically inflated price for every copy of Windows with the offending codec included.

sounds like they learned a lesson (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20089465)

I guess after the whole Hitler debacle, the German people have learned how dangerous a fascist governemnt can be.

Kudos!

Re:sounds like they learned a lesson (2, Funny)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090325)

I guess after the whole Hitler debacle, the German people have learned how dangerous a fascist governemnt can be.

Kudos!
I'm not certain, but I think you are just Godwin'd this news post...

Re:sounds like they learned a lesson (1)

Araneas (175181) | more than 6 years ago | (#20091071)

Sorry, Godwin's doesn't apply as Germany's facist past is relevant to the thread especially where TFA talks about matching IPs to names as a violation of basic rights.

Re:sounds like they learned a lesson (1)

Puff of Logic (895805) | more than 6 years ago | (#20091105)

I'm not certain, but I think you are just Godwin'd this news post...
No, he didn't. Mentioning Hitler or the Nazi regime isn't automatically an instance of Godwin's Law. The last time I checked, a direct (and usually fallacious) comparison need to be made in order to invoke Godwin's Law [wikipedia.org] .

Re:sounds like they learned a lesson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20091523)

Why are you such a Hitler, Hitler?

This is great (4, Insightful)

hkgroove (791170) | more than 6 years ago | (#20089483)

I'm glad the German government / courts have some common sense unlike their American counter-parts. First Scientology now this!

Re:This is great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20089543)

On that note... should there be an investigation as to what connection Scientology has w/ the **AA's. I wouldn't be terribly surprised if there weren't a fair number of connections...

Re:This is great (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090121)

Evil comes in a million guises. I doubt they're allied, though they're brethren in spirit, no doubt.

Re:This is great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20090153)

Meine Nase ist aber schon wider nicht weg geflogen. Deine auch?

Editor? (0, Redundant)

oxidiser (1118877) | more than 6 years ago | (#20089487)

The goal was
  • to to
find out from ISPs the...
C'mon, even MS Word catches this.

Re:Editor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20089671)

C'mon, even MS Word catches this.

They were probably typing in Works and were distracted by the adds.
"The goal was...oh, look! That new iphone thingy is on sale! Oh, where was I..."

Re:Editor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20089675)

they are not using M$ products.

Think of the children! (2, Funny)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 6 years ago | (#20089503)

How long before the RIAA's bought politicians in the US start threatening the German government for supporting terrorism?

Re:Think of the children! (1)

Dretep (903366) | more than 6 years ago | (#20091519)

Wow, good point. The classic "if you're not with us you're against us" will be creating an international incident soon. Perhaps even WWIII... Bush: "File-sharers can shake the foundations of our recording industry, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter copyright laws, but they cannot dent the CD sales of American resolve." Merkel: Ja, gut. Another Shniztel und Bier Herr Bush?

Deutschland Uber Alles! (5, Funny)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#20089525)

Hooray for Germany! Is it still bad to say this?

Re:Deutschland Uber Alles! (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 6 years ago | (#20089593)

No, it's OK. Just don't mention the War!!!!

Re:Deutschland Uber Alles! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20090827)

No, it's OK. Just don't mention the War!!!!
Why not? The Poles did it and now their dead get to vote [guardian.co.uk] . The hypocrisy of the Kaczynski brothers seems to be limitless.

Re:Deutschland Uber Alles! (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 6 years ago | (#20089867)

"Hooray for Germany" is ok, "Deutschland über alles" not so much.

Re:Deutschland Uber Alles! (4, Informative)

orzetto (545509) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090161)

"Hooray for Germany" is ok, "Deutschland über alles" not so much.

...and why not exactly? It is part of their national anthem and has no Nazi-party origins or connections. Contrary to what WW1 British propaganda said about the Hun, "Deutschland über alles" is not a claim of racial or national superiority, since "alles" means "everything", not "everybody". It was originally meant as "uniting the country is more important than petty state interest" when the country was united in the second half of the 19th century; it is basically a federalist motto.

Then again, it's in German, and everything in German looks scary... including Geschwindigkeitbegrenzung and Streichholzschächtelchen.

Re:Deutschland Uber Alles! (3, Informative)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090233)

not really. this comes from the first stanza, but only the third stanza is the actual german national anthem.

Re:Deutschland Uber Alles! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20090579)

Geschwindigkeitbegrenzung and Streichholzschächtelchen.

Loosely translated: we shall invade Poland at dawn tomorrow.

Well maybe not, but it is an unfortunate fact that every German phrase sounds like a declaration of war.

Re:Deutschland Uber Alles! (3, Informative)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090763)

Albeit its older ager (it had been composed by Haydn for the Austrian Emperor, the words as used in the 20th century had been written in 1841, and it had been the anthem of the Weimar republic since 1922) the first stanza of the Deutschlandlied [wikipedia.org] indeed was part of the Nazi anthem, and the "Deutschland über alles" was sung with particular fervency.

As you said, the words do mean "Germany above everything", but I fail to see how you can find that alright. Your country above your family? Your love? Your honor? It's an evil concept when taken out of its original context (1848 revolutions, when nationalism was liberal and meant freedom from the German monarchs, and progress) and applied to a modern industrial nation, as the Nazis did (when nationalism became utter hell).

You are wrong in your believe that the words are part of Germany's current national anthem. Due to its mentioned older age, post-war Germany decided to keep the anthem, but not to sing the defiled first stanza. Instead, only the third stanza is sung, "unity and justice and freedom". Freudian slips are frowned upon and for a politician would mean nearly immediate resignation.

Re:Deutschland Uber Alles! (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#20091127)

Things take on new meaning and symbolism over time - saying it doesn't is as stupid as arguing the difference between "hacker" and "cracker" decades after people have changed it. It doesn't matter what it literally says or originally meant - people still hear it and think nazi regime, "über allen" = over everyone, "überall" = everywhere or whatever mistranslation they'd like to apply. Reminds me of something I read in the newspaper, was about some ex-concentration camp prisoner lady who came to Norway, saw an old fence from 1900 or so far predating the Nazis, made of Swastikas. She fainted and was brought to the hospital. Was it because it is an old germanic (read = aryan, to the Nazis) symbol? No, it's because the Nazis have forever tainted that symbol. Just like "Deutschland über alles" will never mean "Deutschland über alles" like it did before the Nazis.

Re:Deutschland Uber Alles! (5, Funny)

whopub (1100981) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090361)

Hooray for Germany! Is it still bad to say this?
Sorry, you still can't say that. Atrocities like the fact that David Hasselhoff's records sold well in Germany are still fresh in our collective memory!

Re:Deutschland Uber Alles! (1)

Scherf (609224) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090461)

Sorry, you still can't say that. Atrocities like the fact that David Hasselhoff's records sold well in Germany are still fresh in our collective memory!

Sadly I have no mod points so I have to tell you: LMAO!

Karma be damned.

No wonder they believe in free music (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090731)

If the best they've got is David Hasselhoff, then no wonder they are so against having to pay for music. It's just not worth paying for over there!

American news release... (4, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#20089603)

Bombing of Berlin will start in 24 hours. Dick Cheny and President Bush decided that the German government is not in the best interests of the USA and must be stopped.

"we are bringing freedom to all of the euopean continent" Dick cheny said after he bit the head off a chicken and sucked the blood out.

Re:American news release... (4, Funny)

spungo (729241) | more than 6 years ago | (#20089939)

Mod parent up!! Is it me, or does your average /. moderator have absolutely no discernable sense of humour? WTF is wrong with these people?? You know -- it's humourless bozos like these that give us geeks a bad name.

Re:American news release... (2, Funny)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 6 years ago | (#20091341)

Sometimes I think we need a "+!, prior mod has Asperger's Syndrome" mod.

Re:American news release... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20090009)

OHHO HAHAHAHAHAH HAH OH HO HAH HOOOHEEE HAW HAW! Your so funny! You should be a professional comedian! I mean it! No, seriously, you should! Your prediction of what Dick Cheney would say was SPOT THE FUCK ON, GOOD SIR!

not funny indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20090259)

I agree, mod grandparent informative.

Re:American news release... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20090327)

... Dick cheny said after he bit the head off a chicken ...

So he's a real geek :) [bartleby.com]

History reversed (1, Insightful)

omalley-the-alley-ca (1136463) | more than 6 years ago | (#20089611)

It's ironic that the RIAA's storm-trooper tactics are supported by American courts, while Germany is the country standing up for individual rights.

Wait a minute! Did you..... (2, Funny)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090005)

It's ironic that the RIAA's storm-trooper tactics are supported by American courts, while Germany is the country standing up for individual rights.

Wait a minute. Did you just sneak in Godwin's Rule? You didn't mention NAZIs, but then again you implied it. Arrrrrgh! I can't tell! My brain hurts!

Re:History reversed (1)

muuh-gnu (894733) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090035)

> while Germany is the country standing up for individual rights.

Not for long.

In German politics such laws are too considered a "loophole", which will get fixed sooner or later.

This and similar rulings will pave the way for "Auskunftsanspruch" laws, which will make the detour über the public attorneys not necessary since wealthy authors will get a _right_ to get the names of the infringers. Germany them will use its weight to force similar laws on an paneuropean level, like they did with the "Vorratsdatenspeicherung" (forced data retention).

Re:History reversed (1)

Scherf (609224) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090907)

Are you sure about this? Because in this case it wasn't a loophole but a court that basically said: "Yes, this has been a crime, but the delict was so small that nobody actually cares". If this wouldn't have been about people sharing some files on a P2P network, but an organization that lets you illegaly download thousands of songs from their high speed FTP server for a fee, the delinquents would have been spoken guilty under the same law the P2P guys could have been but haven't.

It's pretty much like carrying around a little bit of cannabis. It's forbidding but if aren't very very unlucky nothing will happen to you even you get cought. On the other hand, if you have like 4 pounds of it lying around in your house you are fucked because you're probably a dealer.

Makes a lot of sense to me.

Re:History reversed (4, Funny)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090137)

It is interesting that you compare the RIAA to storm troopers. Each are just as likely to hit their target.

Re:History reversed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20090311)

Not so ironic. You see, the storm troopers (SA) were taken out by the gestapo (SS). That's why the RIAA's storm trooper tactics didn't work.

Next time, the RIAA will employ gestapo tactics, which will prove to be more successful.

Re:History reversed (1)

mroberts47 (1073802) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090739)

So how is Germany supporting individual rights when it does not allow parents to home school their kids?

Re:History reversed (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 6 years ago | (#20091431)

How are they supported by US courts? In fact, most of the cases I've read about that make it to court have sided with the defendant.

Now, if by US courts supporting the RIAA you mean they aren't immediately throwing out the case... then yes, you have a point.

Threatening Germany (4, Informative)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#20089625)

Will they now threaten Germany, as they've threatened Russia (no WTO until AllOfMP3 is destroyed), and Sweden (raid The Pirate Bay, or else we won't like you)?

What this decision says that's really important is that file sharing isn't the big deal the RIAA affiliated companies -- and Elton John -- make it out to be. And the losses due to a few files shared isn't HUGE AMOUNTS OF DOLLARS, like the RIAA sues for. And that there are other crimes that are far more damaging to society than guaranteeing a profit forever (Sonny Bono Copyright Extension into Eternity Act) for an old industry in a new age. And that the public prosecutors don't work for free for the record industry any longer.

Nice to hear someone say all that.

Re:Threatening Germany (3, Informative)

DELNI-AA (1132369) | more than 6 years ago | (#20089767)

>, and Sweden Yes, even more since Swedish courts recently came to the same conclusion as their German counterparts. Freedom means Europe, these days. God knows what RIAA and the Bush administration will do to us!

Re:Threatening Germany (2, Informative)

lilomar (1072448) | more than 6 years ago | (#20089819)

Sigh, for the last time, Sir Elton John didn't say anything about file shareing. Now go RTFA.

Re:Threatening Germany (4, Informative)

lelitsch (31136) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090135)

I hope that they try, because German governments tend to not react well to intimidation. But similarly to the US policy of not invading countries that (a) don't have oil and (b) could up a fight, I doubt that the US government is eager to hassle the World's third largest economy.

On the other hand, this is a decision at the lowest tier of Germany's court system. Unless the RIAA equivalent appeals twice (first to the Landgericht, then to an Oberlandesgericht) and gets smacked down, this doesn't really have any legal binding for other German courts.

The Heise article makes the interesting point that the prosecutors' offices in see these cases as a waste of time, so they'll probably be even more reluctant to bring charges.

at least... (0, Redundant)

SolusSD (680489) | more than 6 years ago | (#20089677)

at least *some* government understands how big of a waste of resources it is going after 84 year old granny whose 7 year old granddaughter downloaded a britney spears song.

If a Country Really Wanted to Rip the Music Indust (4, Interesting)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#20089717)

If a country really wanted to rip the music industry a new one, they'd institute a reasonable 5 year copyright term for all new recordings. How many old albums are still in the top 10,000 after 4 years anyway.

And once it went out of copyright there, it would be cut free out into the world.

Talk about something to really scare the record companies.

Re:If a Country Really Wanted to Rip the Music Ind (1)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090751)

I am for this solely because it is radical; I would like to see the big music corporations knocked over on their fucking heads.

Re:If a Country Really Wanted to Rip the Music Ind (1)

muuh-gnu (894733) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090955)

> a reasonable 5 year copyright term for all new recordings.

Even a 5 yr term is a massive assault on my privacy, the privacy of my home and the circle of my friends. A copyright I would respect wouldnt apply on private information sharing at all and just focus on commercial selling of counterfeited goods, like it was meant when it was first created.

Wow (5, Insightful)

AlphaLop (930759) | more than 6 years ago | (#20089895)

I wonder if I am too old to learn to speak German...

Yet another country passes us on the personal freedom issue.

Re:Wow (1)

Scherf (609224) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090595)

I would wait a few months before starting to learn it. Even if non of the higher courts mess this up (which I am actually quite optimistic about) the EUs government will. It always does.

I've been told that learning german is quite hard btw.

German music sucks (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20089989)

So it's no surprise a judge would rule that it's ok to steal music in Germany. Germany isn't losing much revenue because German music sucks and no one listens to it. Germany actually profits from stealing other countries' music.

Re:German music sucks (4, Insightful)

Sique (173459) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090197)

On the other hand Germany had its greatest and best musicans, when Copyright (or Author's Right) was virtually nonexistant: Heinrich Schütz, Johann Sebastian Bach, Johann Pachelbel, Philipp Telemann, Georg Friedrich Händel, Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Josef Haydn, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Robert Schumann...

Mozart died a pauper, while Clementi got rich (1)

Tipa (881911) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090549)

Despite being famous, great, etc. Mozart died penniless and was buried in a common grave.

I don't know if Mozart ever copyrighted his stuff, but a contemporary of his, Muzio Clementi [wikipedia.org] , did, and made a fairly good living publishing his own stuff (and Beethoven's!) and lived a pretty comfortable life, despite being neither as famous nor as talented as Mozart. He was pretty upset when Mozart stole one of his themes for the Overture of Die Zauberflote.

I don't know if he sicked the Classical RIAA on them or not...

Re:Mozart died a pauper, while Clementi got rich (4, Informative)

Sique (173459) | more than 6 years ago | (#20091509)

Mozart died penniless, because he was spending his money everywhere. He gambled, and when he and his family went on a way with a coach, there was a second coach accompanying him with his piano, so he could play whenever inspiration got him. He had literally hundreds of toupets, and coats.

Mozart demanded three florins for a hour of music education he gave. The maid who was working for him and his wife, got 12 florins per annum as a salary. So basicly with half a day of work he made as much as normal people in a year.

Later one his widow died with a wealth of five million florins, just because of the income from her late husbands work. It was not the income thad made Mozart penniless. ;)

Re:German music sucks (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090721)

Mozart was Austrian. Do not tell anybody in Austria you ever said this. They will do horrible things to your intestin (and later use it to sell sausages).

Re:German music sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20091437)

dont forget german death metal

berserker!

Does this mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20090065)

We can be proud of our country now?

Germany, eh? (2, Interesting)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090467)

Any chance a German ISP will act as a proxy for people in more MAFIAA-friendly countries?

An old english expression (4, Insightful)

Big Nothing (229456) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090567)

I don't know if it exists in German, but in the english language there is an old expression for this kind of court decision. It's called "common sense" and seems to be all but extinct these days.

Re:An old english expression (2, Interesting)

Scherf (609224) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090635)

Yes it does: "Gesunder Menschenverstand". If you translate it directly it would mean "a healthy human brain". Quite fitting, isn't it?

Re:An old english expression (2, Funny)

orgelspieler (865795) | more than 6 years ago | (#20091541)

Gute Idee! Ich habe den Artikel "plötzlicherausbruchdesgesundenmenschenverstands" ge-tagged.

immer ruhig bleiben (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20090611)

This decision was only made by a small local court and can by overruled anytime by like 10 higher instances (remember its still Germany). So it has to be seen if this decision will stay or not. I also can remember decisions of German province courts to drop the charges for the possession of drugs with a proposal to the German constitutional court to review the laws in regards of that. At first all hemp websites and magazines thought a great time is going to start but a few weeks later that decision was voided by the next instance.

They probably looked on their childrens computer (1)

musicmaster (237156) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090613)

I guess this generation of judges is finally computer literate enough to have looked on the computers of their children and understand what they are doing. That will have teached them that every other family is guilty of this this terrible "crime" that the RIAA is so upset about.

Thank God (3, Informative)

Zatic (790028) | more than 6 years ago | (#20090747)

Being a German, I am actually surprised to see this. My law lecturer used to complain that over 20000 complaints were filed last year at our local court.

The complaints never even get as far as to a single court hearing anyway. The mafiaa used to do this for reasons I commented on on another article:

http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=253607&cid =19947567 [slashdot.org]
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