Feeds

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

Someone's going straight to bed

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Big Content outs piracy hotbeds: São Paulo, Beijing ... TORONTO?
MPAA calls Canadians a bunch of bootlegging movie thieves
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
Hungary's internet tax cannot be allowed to set a precedent, says EC
More protests planned against giga-tariff for Tuesday evening
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Business security measures using SSL
Examines the major types of threats to information security that businesses face today and the techniques for mitigating those threats.