German parents not responsible for piracy of their son – € 6000 saved

The German Federal Court of Justice has ruled that the parents of a 13 year old boy are not responsible for his filesharing activities. The parents were sued by music companies over 15 songs the boy shared and for which they had to pay € 3000 ( €200,- per song) in damages and legal costs of nearly the same amount. The actual copyright infringement took place in 2007 and the boy was using Morpheus and Bearshare to distribute the music. He actually shared over 1000 songs, but only one the music companies which owned the rights to the 15 songs decided to sue the parents.

The parents were found not responsible because they met the obligation of supervising the boy and teaching him that filesharing is unlawful. The court ruled that the parents where not obliged to monitor the internet usage of their son. The plaintiffs also asked the parents of the boy to sign a contract in which they agreed to stop the filesharing now and in the future. The parents signed it, but refused to pay legal costs and damages. A higher regional court in Cologne ruled that the parents were liable for their son’s filesharing and found them to be failing in their parental supervision. The court told them that they should have monitored his PC monthly and they should have installed a firewall and security software to prevent him for sharing files on the internet.

Fortunately for them with the ruling of the Federal Court this decision was overruled and dismissed.