European Court: roommates can’t blame each other for illegal downloads

Posted 18 October 2018 19:19 CET by Jan Willem Aldershoff

Prosecuted illegal downloaders can’t just blame a family member or roommate of the illegal download to stay out of court, according to a ruling of the European Court of Justice today.

The court made the ruling in a lawsuit of a German publisher whose audiobooks had been illegally downloaded. The suspect argued he could not be blamed for the download, because he wasn’t the only one in the house. Therefore, he argued, the prosecutor would be unable to be certain that it was the suspect who downloaded the file.

The European Court did not agree with that. If an accused pirate wants to claim innocence and blame a family member or roommate, he or she must be able to prove it, according to the court. This didn’t happen in this case.

Today’s ruling creates a precedent for further lawsuits about illegal downloads in Europe. In the future, people living in the same house will need to prove someone else downloaded the illegal content or else, he or she, will be held responsible for copyright infringement.

The German lawsuit has not ended yet, the verdict of the European court is passed to a German judge which can take the European ruling into account in his own judgement.

In European countries, just like in many other countries, it’s not allowed to download illegal content, such as movies, series, software and ebooks.


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