Contract & Property Law

Free Wifi and copyright

Germany always does things properly and copyright protection is no different. Under German law, internet wifi providers, which includes consumers operating hot spots, can be held liable for copyright infringement committed by a third party using free Wi-Fi.

Open wifi hotspots are an invitation to anyone wanting to download music and movies for free without running the risk of detection. So its no surprise that there have also been people in Germany using hotspots for exactly that purpose. Its also no surprise then, given the potential liability of hotspot providers, that the copyright holder in one of those cases commenced proceedings against a provider.

In the case the Munich Regional Court referred the matter to the European Court of Justice, seeking clarification whether the European “E-Commerce Directiveā€¯ provides for an exemption of liability for the providers. The e-commerce directive is unclear in that respect and, with every case involving a conflict between national and European law, the outcome is equally unclear.

Watch this space.