File sharing

Can you receive two warning letters for one piece of music?

One of our clients has contacted us to say that he has received two warning letters for file sharing. The unusual thing about this case is that the letters relate to the same piece of music, despite one copyright holder claiming exclusive rights.

File sharing: client receives two warning letters for one piece of music © MS-Fotodesign-Fotolia

File sharing: client receives two warning letters for one piece of music © MS-Fotodesign-Fotolia

File sharing warning letter

Many internet users in Germany are well aware of the so-called warning letter madness (Abmahnwahn). Users accused of file sharing often receive more than one warning letter requiring them to pay compensation and submit an undertaking to cease and desist.

Two warning letters

But one of our clients has recently received two copyright infringement notices from two different German law firms, representing two different copyright holders, but relating to the same piece of music, namely “Prince Kay One – Keep Calm”.

This is not the first time we have come across such a case.

In this case, the alleged date of exchange on the file sharing website is the same; as is the IP address and hash value. The only minor difference is the timing of the alleged copyright infringement, which differs by one-and-a-half hours.

Exclusive rights

The first copyright infringement warning letter originates from the German law firm Kornmeier und Partner. In this letter, the law firm claims that its client, GSDR GmbH, owns the exclusive rights to the piece of music.

The second warning letter comes from CGM Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH in the name of Mr Marcel Uhde. In this letter, the law firm does not mention which rights its client supposedly owns to the piece of music. It simply states that rights to the audio recording are being asserted.

The warning letter business

How can this situation be explained?

If the client represented by Kornmeier und Partner does indeed own the exclusive rights to the piece of music, then only this copyright holder is entitled to send copyright infringement notices.

It cannot be ruled out that in this case, the relevant IP address was logged solely to send warning letters. This would prove that the primary purpose of the copyright holder was not to prevent copyright infringements from being committed, but to make money from warning letters.

We have already contacted CGM by telephone. The person we contacted simply told us that he was unaware that someone else had attempted to claim rights to the piece of music in question. The law firm promised to look into the matter and contact us as soon as possible.

Until we receive the law firm’s response, our curiosity will remain. According to our internet research, Mr Uhde does not exist as a copyright holder.

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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