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Redtube: court annuls some disclosure orders

Before Christmas, thousands of warning letters were sent to internet users accusing them of infringing copyright through streaming. A court in Cologne has since annulled the disclosure orders upon which the Redtube warning letters were based.

Redtube: court annuls some disclosure orders © Nerlich-Images-Fotolia

Redtube: court annuls some disclosure orders © Nerlich-Images-Fotolia

Redtube: streaming warning letters annulled

Following a wave of copyright infringement notices sent to internet users before Christmas, the Regional Court Cologne has annulled some of the disclosure orders upon which the warning letters were based.

Background

The disclosure orders were been granted after IP addresses had been tracked and  copyright infringements alleged. The orders forced service providers to divulge the real details of connection owners (such as  address and name) behind the IP addresses. Using these details, the law firm U+C was able to send a wave of warning letters to internet users accusing them of infringing copyright right through streaming videos on the Redtube platform.

Complaints

According to a press release from the court, 110 complaints were made to the court, 12 of which were made by our law firm, WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE. Following the complaints the court annulled the disclosure orders.

The court justified its decision by saying that where the IP addresses have been illegally obtained and a complaint has been lodged against the original disclosure orders, the evidence would be inadmissible in later court proceedings.

The Regional Court’s decision was foreseeable. It is however, important to note that individual disclosure orders will only be declared void in individual cases and each disclosure order will only be annulled in relation to a particular IP address. This means that each one of the thousands of individuals who received warning letters will have to lodge complaints with the court.

We have provided a model complaint on our website which you can find here.

Legality of streaming

It is a shame that the court did not use its discretion to annul all of the disclosure orders. It is also unfortunate that the court did not express an opinion on the legality of streaming in general. Instead, the court states that streaming is illegal if the videos come from a clearly illegal source. Here the court considers the Redtube platform not to be “clearly illegal”.

A further striking point in the decision is that of costs. The Archive AG has been ordered to pay the costs of the whole proceedings. If thousands of recipients of warning letters bring complaints, this could be expensive for the company. Whether there will be enough money left to compensate internet users after that, depends on the financial strength of The Archive AG.

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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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