Two Danes found innocent of illegal downloading in a Wi-Fi theft case

By EDRi · September 10, 2008

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

On 5 September 2008, a Danish court decided that two woman that had been
taken to court for illegally sharing music by Antipiratgruppen, anti-piracy
affiliates, were innocent. The two women claimed they had not been the
authors of the infringement, having been subject to WiFi theft.

Antipiratgruppen had sent letters to the two women who had P2P software on
their computers, claiming the women had illegally downloaded copyrighted
music and asking for compensations up to about 21 000 and 23 000 euro
respectively. The women stated clearly that they were not the ones having
done the downloading, claiming their Wi-Fi had been piggybacked by unknown
persons. Being unaware of the alleged infringements, they believed they
shouldn’t pay any damages.

The music industry considers that an Internet subscriber is responsible for
what others do on their connection, and the women were supposed to prove
that they had not shared music with others. However, the court had a
different opinion and acquitted the women of the charges. An IP address
identifies only the owner of the Internet access and is not enough to
identify the author of an action. The plaintiff is the one who needs to
prove his allegations.

“It is an unusually clear and precise judgement. It is the plaintiff, who
has the burden of proof. Many who have received letters with claims have
been given the impression that they were required to pay. But we now have
the court’s word for that, they do not (have to pay). It is not enough to
say that you are guilty of piracy due to owning a particular Internet access
point” said Per Overbeck, the lawyer of the two women.

“We do not believe that this law is appropriate and we disagree with the
Eastern Regional High Court’s decision” said Torben Steffensen,
Antipiratgruppen’s lawyer who added “There should be a law that protects
artists from losing income due to piracy. Therefore we would like to have
the Supreme Court dealing with the issue”.

However, Overbeck doubts that the case will get to the Supreme Court. “First
City Court and now the High Court have taken a position, and things can only
end by the Supreme Court, if OK’ed by people high in the Danish legal
system. I can not imagine that this will occur. The courts have both
followed standard law procedure. It is now the plaintiff, who has the burden
of proof. If it is not lifted, they (i.e. the music industry) have lost the
case” said the lawyer.

This is not the only case as recently, there was a similar decision in
Germany, where a court has decided that the owner of an Internet connection
is not responsible for copyright infringements carried out without his
knowledge on the open WiFi.

Danish File-Sharers Not Responsible For Wi-Fi Theft (7.09.2008)

The Danish P2P users not responsible for the pirating of their WiFi network
(only in French, 8.09.2008)

A huge legal system defeat for IFPI, Denmark, could create a precedent in
Europe (9.09.2008)

Victims of WiFi Theft Not Responsible For Illegal Uploads (9.07.2008)