| Thursday April 17th 2014

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It’s official: File sharing becomes a crime without punishment in Germany


germanyLaw enforcement officials from several German states have told local press in recent days that they won’t pursue the vast majority of file sharing lawsuits anymore. A spokesperson of the state prosecutor of Nort-Rhine Westphalia told the online magazine jetzt.de earlier this week that P2P users won’t have to fear any lawsuits if they don’t share files on a “substantial, commercial” level.

The criteria to determine whether P2P users reach this level are both the number of files shared and the specific value of the shared files. From the interview:

“The economic value of a music file is about one Euro, whereas a movie is valued at about 15 Euro. Based on that we define a commercial level as damages greater than 3000 Euro.”


Does that mean that you can now share up to 3000 MP3s without getting sued in Germany? Well, not exactly. Another indicator for so-called commercial infringement is the specific nature of the files shared. Sharing a movie that has not been released theatrically in Germany could get you in trouble even if you don’t share to many other files, according to the prosecutor’s spokesperson.

North-Rhine Westphalia isn’t the only state in Germany that chooses to ignore small-time file sharing. Similar regulations are also put in place in Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt as well as in Berlin. The regulations are a reaction to hundreds of thousands of lawsuits against file sharers that have been filed by rights holders in recent years. North-Rhine Westphalia’s prosecutor told jetzt.de that one of three offices in his state has received 25,000 lawsuits in the first half of this year alone.

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