Father Liable For Not Warning Kid About Piracy, Court Rules
In a rather exceptional verdict, a Leipzig court in Germany has held a father responsible for an audiobook downloaded by his 11-year old son. The father claims that he had instructed his son to use the computer only for school purposes and not for downloading things. However, the court specifically referenced that the anti-piracy instruction was not correct.
Sometimes, the targeted account holder is the perpetrator, but if the Wi-Fi network is unsecured, then it could also be another member of the household or even a complete stranger.
The defendant (the father) has denied having downloaded an audiobook, as he wasn’t home at the time of the infringement. His wife and 11-year-old son were, and as the case progressed it became clear that the latter was the offender. It is not unusual for parents to be held responsible for the actions of their children.
The father argued in his defense that he had asked his son to keep any Internet activity restricted to school purposes, a statement that was backed up by his wife. Additionally, the 11-year-old was warned not to download random things or do anything unsafe.
However, this doesn’t count as a proper instruction as it lacks an exact explanation as to what illegal downloads are, according to the court’s verdict.
For proper parental supervision, it’s required to “instruct a child on the illegality of participating in illegal file-sharing exchanges, and to explicitly prohibit this behaviour,” writes the judge in her order.
The court describes the father’s behavior as “negligent” and doesn’t rule out the chance that the instruction to restrict the son’s Internet to school purposes, was made up to avoid punishment.
Since, the man has been held guilty, he has been asked now to pay 956 euros in damages and legal costs. He still has a choice to appeal the case at a higher court.
The copyright holder, who’s not named in the redacted verdict (pdf), was represented by the German lawfirm Waldorf Frommer, who are widely known for pursuing file-sharers around the country.
Copyright holders have gone after hundreds of thousands of alleged pirates in Germany over the past decade, challenging settlements ranging from a few hundred to thousands of euros.