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Success for creators: regional court Hamburg sentences online service UseNeXT to pay damages

The collective management rights organisation GEMA wins case with regional court Hamburg against Usenet access provider Aviteo Ltd. The judges confirmed that access providers, whose business model promotes the uploading and the sharing of copyright- protected works are liable to pay damages. The judgement is not yet legally binding.


The regional court Hamburg has decreed on 22. June 2018 (AZ 308 O 314/16), that access services, whose business models are based on the illegal exploitation of copyright-protected works, make themselves liable to damage claims. In this specific case access provider Aviteo Ltd is, as perpertrator of a copyright enfringement, liable for damages to GEMA. ‘The judgement signifies a landmark success for all authors’, confirms Dr. Tobias Holzmüller, GEMA’s General Counsel. ‘Online services such as UseNeXT are primarily responsible and cannot hide behind their legal privileges. The judges of regional court Hamburg have with their judgement, created an important precedent for damages claims in respect of internet piracy’.

Access software of file-share hosts is often designed in such a way to allow users to find specific music and films via a special software. The overall offering is clearly geared towards the downloading of copyright-protected works. This makes these services very profitable to their operators. In their judgement the Hamburg regional court judges highlighted, clearly, that services whose business model is based on the illegal downloading of protected works, have an obligation towards copyright holders.

Usenet offers the option, to make files and content available for downloading so that they are spread worldwide over many servers, to which Usenet-providers grant access. Many providers, deliberately exploit the fact that copyright-protected content, such as works from the GEMA repertoire, can be downloaded illegally Recently GEMA won an injunction against Aviteo Ltd, the provider of Usenet, at the Higher Regional Court (OLG) Hamburg (judgement from 14. June 2018 (AZ 5 U 30/16).

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