The consumer association in Brandenburg, Germany, has issued a warning about warning letters (Abmahnung) purporting to concern copyright infringements through streaming on YouTube. These letters are fraudulent. If you have received such a letter, here are some tips on what to do.
Fake YouTube warning letter
The fake YouTube warning letter is being sent by supposed law firm Zajonc & Ruck. They accuse the recipient of infringing copyright on YouTube through streaming videos and demand €39.61 in compensation.
One of our clients has already sent us a copy of the warning letter, excerpts of which can be found below:
“Dear YouTube user,
The reason we have been instructed is because of a copyright infringement has been committed on the platform YouTube via your internet connection. Our client, the Intl. Musik Copyright Agency (IMCA) is owner of the exclusive rights to reproduce this work (§§ 16, 94 et seq. German Copyright Act, Urheberrechtsgestz, UrhG). This right has been violated by the streaming of the work via your internet connection…
Our client has therefore brought court action in the Regional Court Homburg against your internet service provider to seek a disclosure order under § 101(9) UrhG. In this case, the Regional Court confirmed the ownership of rights, the proper recording of the copyright infringement, as well as the correct operation of the investigative software used. In a decision with the reference number XXX, your internet service provider was permitted to disclose your personal details…
In the name of and under the authority of our client, we are serving you with a claim for compensation under § 97a(3) UrhG. You are required to compensate our client for the damage caused through the unauthorised exploitation [of the work] which amounts to €39.61.
We ask you to transfer the sum due within 10 days. Otherwise, we shall be forced to take further steps which could result in further costs being incurred. These costs are to be borne by you. If we are not able to establish that we have received payment within the next 10 days, the resulting costs could exceed the previous amount of €39.60. Upon receipt of payment, all our legal claims against you shall be settled.”
TIP: Recipients of such a fake warning letter via e-mail are strongly advised not to react to it.
Ideally, the e-mail should remain unread and end up in the recycle bin.
Aside from the fact that here at WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE we believe warning letters for streaming are illegal, there are a number of other indications which lead us to believe this e-mail is a fake warning letter.
Firstly, Zajonc & Ruck are not listed in the nationwide index of lawyers. Secondly, the warning letter does not fulfil the formal requirements for warning letters as laid down by statute. Thirdly, the letter does not even mention which copyright-protected work is the subject of the alleged copyright infringement.