File Sharing

Holiday home owner not liable for guest’s file sharing

The regional court in Frankfurt recently ruled that holiday home owners cannot always be held liable for a guest’s file sharing activities, even if they own the internet connection (28.06.2013 Az. 2-06 O 304/12).

Holiday home owner not liable for guest's file sharing © AK-DigiArt-Fotolia

Holiday home owner not liable for guest’s file sharing © AK-DigiArt-Fotolia

File sharing and guest accounts

This case concerned the owner of a holiday home who disputed the legality of a file sharing warning letter they received.

The copyright holder had sent the warning letter after one of its music works had illegally been made publicly available on a file sharing website.

The holiday home owners had provided one of their guests with access to the internet connection. However, before allowing the guest internet access, the holiday home owner and guest agreed that the internet connection would only be used for checking e-mails and for professional purposes.

Restricted internet access

The court found that, as the terms of use of the connection had been discussed, the holiday home owner was not liable for the guest’s file sharing activities.

In particular, by expressly allowing the internet connection to only be used for certain purposes, the downloading of copyright-protected music or other files was necessarily excluded.

In the court’s opinion, where the purpose for which an internet connection is to be used is expressly laid down, there is no requirement to expressly forbid the downloading of copyright-protected material.

As a result, the copyright holder was unable to assert any rights against the holiday home owner as internet connection owner.

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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