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Germany’s Highest Court Uphelds Immunity For Wi-Fi-Operators

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After years and years of legal uncertainty Wi-Fi-operators can now offer free internet to guests without having to fear the consequences of an increasingly dubious business model which Germans called »Abmahnwesen«. The highest German court upheld a law that ended the »Störerhaftung«, a law that held Wi-Fi operators liable for anything a guest did in their network and that made several law firms obscene amounts of money. Content providers though now have to come up with better ideas to protect their products from online piracy.

For years law firms flooded owners of Wi-Fi networks with costly cease-and-desist letters. There were even law firms living from those protecting the people who got the cease-and-desist letters. And while online piracy was a huge problem for all media producers in the early 2000s, nowadays tube sites and illegal streaming networks offer easy access to free media products of all kinds.

For porn piracy was never so bad as the rise of Pornhub, xHamster and other tube sites. Trying to sue individual viewers for watching or sharing proved difficult but in Germany it was a lucrative business for lawyers. And only for them. German lawmakers changed that last year by getting rid of the »Störerhaftung«, an outdated concept in digital spheres where providers of communicative infrastracture are liable for what people communicate or share.

The final decision by the Federal Court of Justice to uphold the abolition of »Störerhaftung« means that Germany might finally get a decent coverage of free Wi-Fi, something the economical behemoth is embarassingly bad in providing.

Prior to the ruling, because of the legal concept known as Störerhaftung, or interferer’s liability, a third party who played no deliberate part in someone else’s actions could be held responsible for them.

The good news for adult companies trying to protect their copyrights. The court stated clearly that its decision »does not preclude the copyright holder from seeking before a national authority or court to have such a service provider ordered to end, or prevent, any infringement of copyright committed by its customers.«

It remains to be seen if creators will finally come to the conclusion that deals with popular streaming sites and tubesites might be finally be the way to go. Or better yet: trying to build streaming sites in cooperation with other producers.


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