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German Prosecutors Won't Help RIAA Counterpart 199

Posted by Zonk
from the will-never-happen-here dept.
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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German Prosecutors Won't Help RIAA Counterpart

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  • If only... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @01:44PM (#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.
    • by monkeyboythom (796957) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @02:19PM (#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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by cepayne (998850)
      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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by thefirelane (586885)
      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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AK Marc (707885)
        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.

        That's not the way it is supposed to work. The legislators are supposed to work in the best interests of the people. If they fail (see 1 year jail time for recording a short clip of a movie for the purposes of a review), the executive is supposed to also exercise judgement to protect the interests of the people. If the executive fails to p
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      the problem is that American courts are there to support the companies, while in europe human rights are actually taken into consideration, something that America fails to even attempt to put in front of making a dollar. the American dream lives on, universal health care is funded by communists,, i mean by terrorists.
  • I sure wish... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jaysyn (203771)
    ... our courts had this much sense.
  • by Stanistani (808333) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @01:49PM (#20089445) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • by Cadallin (863437) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @01:52PM (#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.
    • 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.
      • Yesss... I meant they should be civil cases, and in a minor court.

        Bravo for reading more into my statement than I meant.
        • 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.
          • Could I get as much help from law enforcement since I wasn't charging the defendant with a criminal charge?

            In a "pure" civil case, you get jack from law enforcement. In this case, they will help you at request, but you first of all would have to have at least some sort of evidence or at least a reason to accuse at your hands before they will. That's why the mafiaa tries so hard to push copyright laws into the "hard criminal" area, usually reserved for things like murder, organized crime and professional cri
      • I'm not sure about Germany, but in most civilized countries, this actually would be a civil trial.

        Criminal offenses usually require "public interest in prosecution". And even there exists a difference between public interest in prosecution (where you, as the damaged party, don't have a say whether they prosecute, when your son tries to kill you, the general attorney WILL press charges, no matter if you want the case to rest) and prosecution at the damaged party's asking (if someone steals from you, the poli
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I guess after the whole Hitler debacle, the German people have learned how dangerous a fascist governemnt can be.

    Kudos!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Ngarrang (1023425)

      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...
      • by Araneas (175181)
        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.
      • 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].
    • It is only nitpickings that a judge is not part of the government. Lets hope for the Americanites that the next president after BabyBush will not be as corrupt as him.
  • This is great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hkgroove (791170) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @01:51PM (#20089483) Homepage
    I'm glad the German government / courts have some common sense unlike their American counter-parts. First Scientology now this!
    • by russotto (537200)
      Um, the RIAA hasn't been using criminal courts in the US to go after file sharers. So the situation isn't at all analagous.
      • Um, the RIAA hasn't been using criminal courts in the US to go after file sharers. So the situation isn't at all analagous.
        Actually I think it is analogous in one sense.

        The RIAA's opening gambit is to get the name and address of the person who paid for an internet access account, and then to sue that person.

        In the US it brings fake copyright infringement lawsuits against "John Does", with no intention of prosecuting those cases, but with the sole aim of getting the name and address information. They bring the action hundreds or thousands of miles from where the John Doe lives and could actually fight back, in a court where they could never get jurisdiction over that John Doe, and they bring on the discovery motion ex parte so that the defendant never finds out about until it's too late. (Process described in my article How the RIAA Litigation Process Works [blogspot.com]). They don't tell the judge it's a fake case. They just pretend it's a regular copyright infringement case, and that this is just some early discovery in the case. Then after the order is signed authorizing them to subpoena the ISP, they drop the sham case.

        In Germany they've been using -- up until now -- sham criminal proceedings to accomplish the same result, because in Germany they couldn't have gotten the identity information in a civil case. The German judges and prosecutors have finally realized how they were being used, and have put a stop to it.

        It appears that some of the United States judges are starting to catch [blogspot.com] on [blogspot.com] as well.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by turing_m (1030530)
      Both scientology and the MAFIAA are businesses without scruples. But apparently Germany allows Amway and other MLM schemes in there, go figure.
      • Germany didn't "outlaw" Scientology as far as I know, they just didn't grant them the status of an "acknowledged religious group", which would be quite interesting from a financial point of view, taxes and all.

        You have to do quite a bit to have your group or organisation outlawed in Germany. But it's equally impossible to become a recognized church.
  • How long before the RIAA's bought politicians in the US start threatening the German government for supporting terrorism?
  • by tjstork (137384) <todd...bandrowsky@@@gmail...com> on Thursday August 02, 2007 @01:53PM (#20089525) Homepage Journal
    Hooray for Germany! Is it still bad to say this?
    • by Knuckles (8964)
      "Hooray for Germany" is ok, "Deutschland über alles" not so much.
      • by orzetto (545509) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @02:25PM (#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.

        • by dunkelfalke (91624) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @02:29PM (#20090233)
          not really. this comes from the first stanza, but only the third stanza is the actual german national anthem.
          • by Sique (173459)
            Still wrong. The whole "Lied der Deutschen " is the national anthem, but only the third stanza shall be performed publically.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by dunkelfalke (91624)
              nope. according to the decision [unibe.ch] of the german federal constitutional court only the third stanza is considered as the anthem of federal republic of germany.
        • by Knuckles (8964) <knuckles@COLAdantian.org minus caffeine> on Thursday August 02, 2007 @02:58PM (#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.
          • by AK Marc (707885) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @04:37PM (#20092515)
            As you said, the words do mean "Germany above everything", but I fail to see how you can find that alright.

            Sure, and the Pledge of Allegiance in the US is satanic because you are worshiping an idol (the flag). And yes, I've heard more than one person claim this.

            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).


            I've heard that the military in the US espouses "God, country, family" in that order. Again, that puts the country above the family, love, honor and all that. Is that evil too?
            • by david.given (6740)

              Sure, and the Pledge of Allegiance in the US is satanic because you are worshiping an idol (the flag). And yes, I've heard more than one person claim this.

              Hey, just look at this stanza from the British National Anthem:

              O Lord, our God, arise,
              Scatter her enemies,
              And make them fall.
              Confound their politics,
              Frustrate their knavish tricks,
              On Thee our hopes we fix,
              God save us all.

              Knavish tricks? Oo-er. Basically, national anthems are all full of crap, and no one genuinely takes them seriously. Plus,

              • Basically, national anthems are all full of crap, and no one genuinely takes them seriously.

                That's actually the reason why the third and only the third stanza comprises the current German anthem [wikipedia.org], this time around the goal was to do away with stupid crap. The Germans found out the hard way that being overly nationalistic and patriotic can lead to very bad things. I you check the lyrics of the third stanza you will see that it is very peaceful (no mention of any enemies or other evils that need to be erad
            • by Knuckles (8964)
              Your country above your family? Your love? Your honor? It's an evil concept

              I've heard that the military in the US espouses "God, country, family" in that order.

              Q.E.D.
        • by Kjella (173770)
          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 No
        • by Pig Hogger (10379)

          Then again, it's in German, and everything in German looks scary... including Geschwindigkeitbegrenzung and Streichholzschächtelchen.
          That's nothing compared to the dreaded schmetterling...
        • "Deutschland über alles" is from the first verse of the national anthem of Germany. And since it was the "official" one until 1945, and the notion "Germany superior to everything" (which pretty much is the meaning of that line) isn't really something Germany wanted to be associated anymore after 45.

          Instead, the third verse is now the official text of the German anthem. Same melody, but it now goes "Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit" (unity and justice and freedom). It's more pleasing to the ear, and les
    • by whopub (1100981) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @02:35PM (#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!
    • "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles"

      The line from the German National Anthem usually strikes awkuard feelings in a German because it was severly abused by the Nazis. After all, it means 'Germany, Germany over everything' which the Nazis interpreted quite literally - as we all know.

      However, it initially was meant as an anthem to encourage the forming of a single German Reich as opposed to sticking with the 300+ little dwarf kingdoms and principalities the territory of Germany was made up back some 200
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @01:56PM (#20089603) Homepage
    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.
  • Threatening Germany (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @01:58PM (#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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DELNI-AA (1132369)
      >, 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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by lilomar (1072448)
      Sigh, for the last time, Sir Elton John didn't say anything about file shareing. Now go RTFA.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Sir Elton John didn't say anything about file shareing. Now go RTFA.

        Sir Elton said we should shut down the entire Internet for five years, because it was destroying music as he knows it. That includes every independent selling or sharing their music over the Internet. That includes Web-Radio. That includes filesharing.

        He seems to feel that independent artists like Chip Davis (Mannheim Steamroller), Mike Oldfield (Tubular Bells, Ommadawn), and every kid who can't afford a record studio, but can afford

    • by lelitsch (31136) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @02:24PM (#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.

  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @02:03PM (#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.

    • I am for this solely because it is radical; I would like to see the big music corporations knocked over on their fucking heads.
  • Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AlphaLop (930759) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @02:12PM (#20089895)
    I wonder if I am too old to learn to speak German...

    Yet another country passes us on the personal freedom issue.

    • by Kokuyo (549451)
      Pfft... they, as my own country, pass yours all the time... on the way up, on the way down, up again and down... you get my meaning.
  • My God, Mr. Bainwol, you certainly got those minerals.
    Well, Come on, before ze Germans get here.
  • Germany, eh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HTH NE1 (675604) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @02:41PM (#20090467)
    Any chance a German ISP will act as a proxy for people in more MAFIAA-friendly countries?
  • by Big Nothing (229456) <big.nothing@bigger.com> on Thursday August 02, 2007 @02:46PM (#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: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Scherf (609224)
      Yes it does: "Gesunder Menschenverstand". If you translate it directly it would mean "a healthy human brain". Quite fitting, isn't it?
      • by kb (43460)
        Make that "mind", not "brain". But yeah, it kinda fits.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by orgelspieler (865795)
        Gute Idee! Ich habe den Artikel "plötzlicherausbruchdesgesundenmenschenverstands" ge-tagged.
      • Gesunder Menschenverstand
        As someone else mentioned earlier in this thread: Anything in german reads like a declaration of war.
  • 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 (Score:3, Informative)

    by Zatic (790028) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @02:57PM (#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]
  • ... the GEMA [wikipedia.org] is behind on its campaign contribution payments to the CDU [wikipedia.org] Party.

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