Copyright

Warning letters sent for sale of bootleg DVDs on eBay

The German law firm, Sasse & Partner has once again started to send warning letters to eBay sellers who offer bootleg DVDs.

Warning letters sent for sale of bootleg DVDs on eBay © MS-Fotodesign-Fotolia

Warning letters sent for sale of bootleg DVDs on eBay © MS-Fotodesign-Fotolia

 

Bootleg DVDs sold on eBay

In 2012 we reported incidences of the German law firm Sasse & Partner sending warning letters to eBay sellers who were offering bootleg DVDs. Now the law firm has once again started to send warning letters.

One of our clients recently received such a letter after offering a suspected bootleg Pink Floyd DVD for sale on eBay for 1 euro. He had bought the DVD for 5 euros some months earlier and did not realise it was a fake.

What does bootleg mean?

Bootleg is defined as making, distributing or selling illegally. It is most commonly used in relation to alcohol and sound recordings. Such recordings are often illegally made at concerts and are distributed without having obtained the copyright holders’ consent.

Demand for 800 euros

The warning letter from Sasse & Partner contains a demand for the reimbursement of legal fees amounting to 800 euros. However, this amount is clearly exaggerated.

Under § 97a German Copyright Act claimants’ legal fees in minor copyright infringements are capped at 100 euros per case. Lawyers at Wilde Beuger Solmecke are of the opinion that this is clearly a minor infringement and that Sasse & Partner’s legal justification for demanding such high fees is questionable.

Internet users in similar cases regularly face such exaggerated claims. Also, in many cases concerning bootleg DVDs, the copyright owner fails to sufficiently demonstrate their rights of ownership. These two elements can generally present opportunities for defending a claim.

Despite the similarities in many DVD bootleg cases, each situation must be assessed on its individual merits in order to see whether the minimum seriousness threshold has been exceeded, whether ownership rights have been sufficiently demonstrated and whether there are other possible legal defences.

What to do if you receive a bootleg warning letter?

It is important to not ignore the bootleg warning letter. However, you should also avoid sending the pre-printed declaration to cease and desist which is attached to the letter. Instead, we strongly advise you seek legal advice on how to react in the right way to the warning letter.

We would be happy to answer your questions on your legal position and suggest a suitable course of action.

Christian Solmecke is a partner at the law firm WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE. He is the author of numerous legal publications in the area of internet and IT law. He is also an associate lecturer for social media law at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

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