ECJ preliminary ruling in German case of copyright infringement by family members


The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has answered the request for a preliminary ruling of a German court about liability of committing copyright infringement by family members. Copyright infringement committed by downloading copyrighted material without permission was conducted by using Mr Michael Strotze’s Internet network. Strotze argued that he is not liable for such infringement, since there are other family members who had access to the house’s Internet, but did not provide further details. ECJ had to weigh the balance between protection of family and private life vs. protection of interests of copyright holders. The court decided that relevant EU legislation “must be interpreted as precluding national legislation, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, under which, as interpreted by the relevant national courts, the owner of an internet connection used for copyright infringements through file-sharing cannot be held liable to pay damages if he can name at least one family member who might have had access to that connection, without providing further details as to when and how the internet was used by that family member. (para 55)”