OPINION: No lawsuits for German P2P sharers is a good thing

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i-love-p2p.jpgLucky Germans – a bunch of law enforcement officials in Germany have declared today that they won’t be prosecuting the vast majority of file-sharing lawsuits.

Basically, they’ve rather sensibly decided that home users aren’t worth bothering with and will only go after P2P users that share on a “substantial, commercial” level. What level is that? I’m glad you asked. Being a German, the state prosecutor of Nort-Rhine Westphalia has defined it in very prescise terms:

“The economic value of a music file is about one Euro, whereas a movie is valued at about 15 Euro. Based on that we define a commercial level as damages greater than 3000 Euro.”

So you can share 3000-odd songs without being prosecuted. Be careful though – they’re planning to take into account factors like availability too. If you’re sharing a new album that isn’t out yet, then that has considerably more value, as would a movie that hasn’t been released yet.

The exception isn’t limited to Nort-Rhine Westphalia either. The rules are mostly the same in Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and in the capital, Berlin. Other states in Germany haven’t necessarily implemented these rules yet, so if you live outside these areas you need to watch out still.

In case you’re wondering exactly why the cops are suddenly saying “ahh… sod it” with regards to copyright infringement, the aforementioned state prosecutor revealed that one of the three offices in his state recieved 25,000 lawsuits of this nature in the first half of this year alone. It would be simply impossible to deal with all of them.

This is yet another sign that traditional rules of copright don’t apply so easily in the 21st century. People these days are seeing music, film and tv more as a ‘service’ than a product. Sure, there can be a product attached, like a 12″ record with beautiful sleeve art, or a comfy seat in a darkened room with a bucket of popcorn. But when the actual film or song itself is intangible and can be infinitely replicated for zero cost, it actually has very little value in itself.

This is a good sign, Germany. Now just legislate to decriminalise low-level non-profit p2p use, and pay the rights holders royalties out of the massive increase in revenues that it’ll bring to your broadband providers.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments.

(via p2p Blog)

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Duncan Geere