Court Says Parents Not To Blame For Son's Piracy

A couple have ended a five-year legal battle with Germany's highest court after being accused of not monitoring their son's digital activities properly, after he shared over 1,000 songs illegally online.

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Parents are not responsible for their teenage child's piracy, according to a court in Germany.

Germany is seen as one of the strictest countries for punishing internet account holders for illegally sharing copyrighted files, according to Torrent Freak.

This changed last week when the highest court in Germany ruled that a couple were not responsible for their teenager's actions when he shared 1,147 songs online in 2007.

Rights holders noticed that the songs were being shared from one address, and traced it back to a married couple who owned the internet connection.

After searching their home, the computer that was sharing the files belonged to their 13-year-old son. The parents refused to pay damages to the rights holders, and ended up battling the fines in court ever since.

The prosecutors in sited that the parents had failed in their duty to supervise their son's digital activities. At the time, a district court agreed and ordered the parents to pay 200 ($255) per song up to 3,000 ($3,829).

The couple still refused to pay the fine, and an appeal finally made it to the Federal Court this year where they overturned the previous judgment and dismissed the case. The court added that the parent were not required to monitor their child's activities, and should not be expected to install monitoring software unless they already suspected their son was engaging in illegal activities.

Many cases like these are not as lucky, but the ruling could help prevent others from being blamed for illegal filesharing just because they own the connection that it was conducted on.

15 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Of course the parents aren't responsible for the kid's actions. Why did that even need to be discussed?
    Actually, law says that when underage person commits a crime, it's their parents/guardians who are responsible for the crime.
    I'm going to assume the judge took into account the "reasonable steps" mode of thought where the parents having no suspicions of any illicit activities have no reason to monitor their childs internet access. As such it is a bit much to blame them for what the child did, this would NOT be the case if the child had any priors though.
    Thief. Parents aren't to blame, just the kid's ignorance.
    This is stupid, I'd say when you're 13 years old a music downloading law should not apply to the parents as suggested above. The parents could teach a kid, but when you're 13 do you think you understand what music downloading really is? Can't believe they actually tried to fine the parents
    That makes sense! However, parents can stop the kids from getting into messy situations like these. Precisely the reason why I installed a free app called Qustodio on my home computer a while back. I do need to watch what my son is up to when online and the app actually allows me to watch the profile pictures of accounts that he chats with. Google for it.