Decision overturns two pro-privacy decisions by lower courts

The German Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof, BGH) on Tuesday announced a ruling on a court dispute between Deutsche Telekom AG (ETR:DTE), Europe's largest telecommunications company and Naidoo Records, a label of one of Germany's top Christian rock musicians, Xavier Naidoo.  

The new ruling overturns two lower court rulings by the regional court and the regional appeals court of Cologne, which ruled that ISPs did not have to hand over data on infringing users unless the infringement was on a "commercial scale".

In the new ruling -- which may only be overturned by Germany's constitutional court, the nation's highest court -- ISPs are required to log all customers IP addresses and in the case of an infringement report, hand over the name and addresses customer was connected to the dynamic IP address at the time.

Under the ruling, the good news is that infringement allegations must be screened by a judge to determine if infringement actually occurred.  The bad news is that ISPs like Deutsche Telekom may now have to spend millions extra on monitoring, logging, and reporting expenses, as reports on the ruling did not mention any form of compensation for processing requests.

Deutsche Telekom
A German Federal court has forced Deutsche Telekom to pay to police its users.
[Image Source: MobiFrance]

The ruling, in effect indicates the German Federal Court's opinion that the copyright privileges of large media entities outweigh the financial well being of service providers or the privacy rights of customers.

The song involved in the precedent setting spat was dubbed "Bitte hör nicht auf zu träumen" -- "Please Don't Stop Dreaming".  Indeed for big media this ruling is a dream come true.  But for ISPs and pirates it's the start of a terrible nightmare.

Source: Bundesgerichtshof Press Release

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser
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