A lot of German porn enthusiasts have had their porn browsing history laid bare to the public, thanks to a German court's mistake. About 20,000 people in Germany who watched porn on the US-based site Redtube had their names and addresses released by a court, and, if that wasn't quite humiliating enough, are now being asked to pay fines of more than 200 euros.
The trouble centers around a blurred definition of copyright infringement. According to NBC, a law firm called Urman + Collegen (U+C), representing clients who claimed their copyrighted material had been uploaded to Redtube without permission to order, applied to the court to force German internet provider Deutsche Telekom to release the names of tens of thousands of people who'd watched the videos. The firm sent out between 10,000 and 20,000 letters with fines attached, and the true villains of this tale — simple Rhineland folk masturbating in the privacy of their own sex dungeons — were shamed forthwith. Justice was done.
Or was it?? (The answer is no, probably not.) Several lawyers have pointed out that the court made a pretty big mistake. See, the old fuddy-duddies of the German judicial system mistakenly believed that the videos in question had been downloaded, not, as was really the case, streamed. There's a big difference between the two things, namely, that the former violates copyright laws.
The decision could have some pretty serious ramifications for people who are trawling YouTube for their favorite hit songs from high school, but the most immediately distressing thing about the case, according to attorney Christian Solmecke, is how quickly the court released the private information of people who probably didn't do anything wrong.
"This is a huge mistake," he explained, "and the fact that these people's private details were released is very worrying."
The case, which dates back to August, culminated last week when the cease and desist letters were sent to people thought to be living mainly in Germany. The Cologne court that made the order said the law firm U+C was acting on behalf of a Swiss copyright protection firm called The Archive.
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