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German court sets file sharing damages at €15, not €300

A German court has said that a teenager who was guilty of posting copyrighted material to a file sharing network must pay €15 in damages per track and not the €300 the rights holders were demanding.29 Oct 2010

The court said that the basis for a fine should be the amount that reasonable parties would agree as a royalty for the use of the music.

The case is a rare ruling on damages for the uploading of copyrighted content. In US cases rights holders can demand up to $150.000 per song.

A Hamburg court, the Landgericht Hamburg, said in a statement that that the then-16 year old had placed two songs that he did not have the copyrights to on a network for sharing.

The court said that this was illegal, but that the damages to be paid by the young man should be set in accordance with what a licence to use the songs should have cost.

The songs, one by Irish boyband Westlife and the other by German rock band Rammstein, were already a few years old by the time of the 2006 incident and so were not as valuable as other tracks, the Court said.

It said that because the period during which the tracks were available was so short that this would also limit the damages to be paid. They could not have been downloaded more than 100 times each, the Court said.

The Court said that it took account of a German rate for the private use of streaming music and of an arbitration decision made by the German Patent and Trademark Office earlier this year in setting the licence fee to be paid at €15 per track.

The Court dismissed a claim that the father of the boy was guilty of copyright infringement because of his son's actions.