Feeds

German court finds parent liable for child's file-sharing

Someone's going straight to bed

The essential guide to IT transformation

Parents can be legally responsible for the unlawful behaviour of their children using home internet connections, a German court has ruled. It said that a woman had a duty to monitor the use to which her internet connection was put.

German law firm Dr Bahr has published details of the case, which was heard by the Higher Regional Court of Cologne.

A woman said that she forbade her children from using the home computer and internet connection to engage in copyright-infringing behaviour. Around 1,000 songs were made available from that connection, though, and the woman was sued by record labels.

The woman argued that she was not behind the making available of the songs and that it was due to the actions of one or more of her five children. The Court said, though, that the woman must be liable for the activity.

The case was an appeal from the original ruling, which also said that she should be responsible. The ruling said that living with the woman was her husband and five children, aged from one to 13 years old.

"Which children have used the port, she did not say," said the ruling, according to an automatic Google translation of the document. "In a response formulated by lawyers... the 'older children' are mentioned. It remains unclear whether the middle child is counted among the users or not."

"Given this overall lack of speech it must be the responsibility of the defendant for the alleged violations," it said.

The German Court heard that the woman had "constantly reminded" her children not to engage in illegal file-sharing.

Both Scots law and English law provide that a parent generally is not liable for the actions of their child, and that a civil judgment is as binding on a child as it is on an adult.

There are, though, some circumstances in which a parent can become responsible for the child's actions. That can happen when a child causes injury to others or where a parent has previously authorised or subsequently ratified the child's unlawful act.

"It is possible that someone could argue that a mother was authorising copyright infringement if she had turned a blind eye and provided the computer and the internet connection," said Kim Walker, a copyright expert with Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM.

"Cases in the past, though, have said that the fact that someone provided facilities which make infringement impossible is not of itself enough to make them liable," he said. "It sounds as if the woman in this case did make it clear that this was not how her children were to use the computer."

See:

* The ruling in German * The ruling in English (automated translation by Google)

Copyright © 2010, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
Redmond resists order to hand over overseas email
Court wanted peek as related to US investigation
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
NZ Justice Minister scalped as hacker leaks emails
Grab your popcorn: Subterfuge and slur disrupts election run up
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.