German Courts Consider Legality of Redtube Letters Sent by Firm

COLOGNE, Germany—A court in Cologne is revisiting an earlier decision allowing German ISPs to give a law firm contact information for tens of thousands of users who were sent intimidating letters warning them to pay a fine for watching illegal porn ... or else. According to the BBC, "The firm, Urmann, acting on behalf of Swiss copyright company Archive, targeted users it said had viewed content on porn-streaming site Redtube."

Unlike prior end-user tactics plied by aggressive law firms in Europe and the United States, this time the German firm accused people of being liable for alleged piracy accomplished via streaming as opposed to the sharing and downloading of copyrighted content. As AVN has reported, the law firm considers Redtube a "test case" for future letters targeting similar activity.

"Now," adds the BBC, "the court in Cologne says it has examined complaints from dozens of people who received the copyright infringement warning letters, which demanded a 250 euro (£210) payment," and has determined that the complaints raise "considerable" doubts about the legality of the letters, and calling laws on streaming ill-defined.

The law firm reacted to the statement by the court with indignation, "defending itself against claims it had issued a false affidavit to the court. The firm called on the court to withdraw the allegation." A final ruling by the Cologne court is due in January.

However, a different court in Hamburg has also issued a temporary injunction "against Urmann and Archive preventing them from sending warning letters to Redtube users alleging copyright infringement."

In a statement reacting to the injunction, Redtube said, "This ruling is a victory not just for Redtube users, but for anyone who accesses a streaming website.

"It sends a clear message that the exploitation of personal information and the violation of privacy for financial gain will not be tolerated," added the site.