Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Don't Torrent In Germany

A few years ago I wrote about torrents which is a file sharing technology and Bittorrent is the most popular p2p/file-sharing technology in Europe.  


Torrents aren't illegal but it is illegal to share copyrighted files via Bittorrent.  Germany is very strict about this and there is even an industry there of private law firms enforcing this by sending out an Abmahnung - basically a cease and desist letter.

It's almost an expat right of passage in Germany to be issued an Abmahnung, and the hefty fine, during their first year.  Downloading a single song or movie can cost €300 - €1000.  Each year there are around 500.000 fines issued.  It's a big business for legal firms.

In Germany, ISPs are required to record information about customer's online activity and keep it for at least 10 weeks which these private law firms then use the chase down who's downloading what.  The copyright holders of the actual songs or movies are good with this because it keeps people from just downloading their stuff for free.

Torrents work in a way that you actually download and upload at the same time.  Be sure to use a VPN to to mask your IP address so that you can download anonymously and most importantly...make sure that your VPN is turned on.

So here's what happened.  While in Berlin for Christmas, I opened my laptop to look something up and didn't realise that my VPN wasn't turned on.  My shared torrent data while I was online.  I din't even think anything about it.

Well Claudia's dad received a 13-page Abmahnung showing that a copyrighted TV episode was downloaded from his IP address from 14:20:50 to 14:21:02.  12 miliseconds.  Not even a full second.

So her dad had to contact a lawyer and send a letter basically stating that it wasn't him and that he'll make sure that it doesn't happen again, blah blah blah.  There was also a fine for €570 which I paid.  An expensive lesson for sure.

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