Liability for unlawful filesharing: the BearShare case


Jens Künzel

In January 2014, Germany’s Federal Court of Justice ruled on an important limitation to the liability of owners of an internet connection.

In modern times, it has become increasingly common for young adults to be still living at home with their parents. It is also quite common that there is an internet connection in such homes, whose owner is the parent rather than the adult child, although the child regularly uses it.

The BearShare case addressed the legal question of how far the responsibility of the owner of the internet connection reaches; in other words, under what circumstances it includes liability for illegal filesharing by the adult children using their parents’ internet connection.

In the case at hand, the plaintiffs were record producers who claimed that several thousand files of their recordings had been made available for illegal download on a filesharing platform over the defendant’s internet connection. They sued the defendant for reimbursement of legal costs incurred through a warning letter sent by their attorneys.

filehsaring; BearShare; copyright infringement.