File Sharing

Almost 109,000 file sharing warning letters sent in 2013

File sharing warning letters (Abmahnung) continue to be big business. In 2013, almost 109,000 copyright infringement notices were sent. This is despite new legislation introduced in October 2013 to stop the so-called warning letter madness (Abmahnwahn).

Almost 109,000 file sharing warning letters sent in 2013 © MS-Fotodesign-Fotolia

Almost 109,000 file sharing warning letters sent in 2013 © MS-Fotodesign-Fotolia

File sharing warning letters

Despite legislation being introduced in October 2013 designed to stem the number of copyright infringement notices sent for file sharing in Germany, the warning letter business continues to be lucrative.

Many internet users continue to receive warning letters accusing them of committing copyright infringements on file sharing websites and there are no signs that the so-called warning letter madness (Abmahnwahn) is set to recede.

Recent data published by the ‘Interest Group against Warning Letter Madness’ (Interessengemeinschaft gegen den Abmahnwahn) shows that often exaggerated claims and sometimes unjustified warning letters are a lucrative source of revenue.

According to the projections published on 27.02.2014 and entitled Filesharing-Abmahnstatistik 2013 (File Sharing Warning Letter Statistics 2013), 108,975 file sharing warning letters were sent in 2013. In comparison to the previous year, this is just a 1.3% reduction.

More copyright holders and law firms

An interesting development is that the number of copyright holders on the file sharing warning letter market, as well as the number of law firms representing copyright holders has increased.

The number of copyright holders increased from 422 to 446 and the number of law firms from 65 to 72.

Main players

The “market leader” in sending copyright infringement notices is still Waldorf Frommer with an estimated 34,800 warning letters sent in 2013. This is followed by Sasse & Partner (10,875), Urmann & Collegen (10,145) and WeSaveYourCopyrights (9,425).

Noticeable here is that three of these firms, Waldorf Frommer, Urmann & Collegen and WeSaveYourCopyrights, increased the number of warning letters in comparison to the previous year.

Main works

The largest proportion of copyright infringement notices were sent for feature films, followed by pornographic works and MP3s (especially current chart music).

Increased compensation and court action

The average level of compensation being sought by copyright holders has increased from €796.98 to €829.11 and the incidences of court action being taken to enforce the alleged rights have also increased.

What to do if you receive a warning letter

Despite the introduction of new legislation, recipients of file sharing warning letters should react very carefully.

In our experience, simply disputing the claims made in the warning letter is not enough. Instead, concrete objections must be raised.

Following a case won by WBS at Germany’s Federal Court of Justice, entitled Morpheus, it is now not normally necessary for parents to constantly monitor their children’s internet use (see judgment from 15.11.2012 case ref. I ZR 74/12). Neither do connection owners have to monitor their adult children or spouses.

However, this is only the case if family members have been instructed on the dangers of file sharing; and this has to be sufficiently demonstrated in court.

It is important that connection owners do not submitted the pre-printed undertaking to cease and desist received from the opposition law firm. And under no circumstances should connection owners simply implicate other family members.

File sharing statistics

The file sharing statistics can be viewed here.

The file sharing statistics (Filesharing Abmahnwesen Deutschland Jahresstatistik 2012) are licensed under a Creative Commons Licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/de)and provided reference is made to the author and the licence conditions are upheld, they may be freely reproduced, distributed and made available to the public.

„Filesharing Abmahnwesen Deutschland Halbjahresstatistik 2013“; Fred-Olaf Neiße, Interessengemeinschaft gegen den Abmahnwahn, http://www.iggdaw.de/

 

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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