The Germans, who are often stereotyped as rolling over when well organised forces order them about, have just suspended their legal system to allow movie studios to sue citizens for large sums of money whenever they like.
A Munich Court has insisted that a woman must have downloaded a flick called Violent Hooligans simply because a film studio claimed she had.
The court chose to ignore evidence that it was technically impossible for the woman to have uploaded the film onto eDonkey in January 2010 because… she did not have a computer, wi-fi or a router.
The woman had subscribed to a 2-year internet and telephone package, but six months ago had flogged her computer and didn’t even have an email address.
How the alleged offense could have been carried out even by a third party remains one of life’s mysteries, but as far as the German court was concerned, the movie studio’s towel was there first and the woman would have to pay up.
There were all sorts of things which could have caused the court a reasonable doubt, but according to the woman’s lawyer Christian Solmecke, a lawyer with Wilde Beuger Solmecke, the court was not interested.
He told TorrentFreak that normally a copyright holder has to prove who did the copyright infringement. This is hard for copyright holders because it’s difficult to look into a thousand houses. Now it seems that the courts have decided they don’t have to.
Solmecke said that all a copyright holder has to do is show that a protected work has been traded via a specific IP-address, then the accused has to prove their innocence. The standard seems to be pretty high if it doesn’t think that lacking the equipment is an excuse.
The woman must now pay just over 650 euros in damages to the copyright holder.
Until the Germans are dragged kicking and screaming to the European Court to remind them how a legal system works, it seems that Big Content has the right to pick a name out of a phone book, accuse them of piracy and the court will allow them to take 650 euros from each.
Of course if you are Big Content, and your staff are caught pirating, you can come up with any half-arsed lame excuse you like and it will have to be accepted.