Germany’s Federal Court of Justice decided in a recently published judgment that file hosting services should monitor external website links to their websites to ensure they do not direct internet users to illegal content.
Rapidshare’s monitoring obligations
The judgment comes after the German collecting society, GEMA sued the online storage provider and file hoster Rapidshare.
Rapidshare users were able to upload any content to the file hosting website and were able to create collections of links.
GEMA accused Rapidshare of hosting 4,815 copyright-protected music files, which were made publicly available without GEMA’s consent.
Germany’s Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof, BGH) has now confirmed that file hosting providers can be held liable for copyright infringements conducted by their users (15.08.2013, I ZR 80/12).
In addition, file hosting services will be required to monitor at regular intervals external websites for copyright-infringing collections of links which refer to the file hosting service.
The judgment means that file hosting services will be required to trawl the internet for copyright infringements, even though they may have no actual knowledge of a particular breach.
The court has issued no guidance on how wide the monitoring requirement is, how many links a file hosting service must monitor and how many company resources should be invested in such a task.
Lawyers at Wilde Beuger Solmecke are of the opinion that these new monitoring requirements on file hosting providers go too far.
The BGH’s full judgment can be downloaded here.