The lowdown on downloads



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The rules changed

Hey Bastien! The rules are slightly different since 2017. Here's a slightly more up-to-date article on the topic:

Nicolas Bouliane more than 4 years ago

Updated take on the topic

Hey there.

I made a little post on the topic to help expats react better to those letters when they receive one. It can be quite impressive especially when one doesn't speak German, or the administrative German for that matter! :)

See the result here :

Bastien - SiB more than 5 years ago

Got fined

I just got the letter today, 800 euro for 12 year old slave

michael more than 7 years ago



jaxckie more than 4 years ago

RE: Laptop and Ipad Seizure!!!!

I doubt that happened.

GUffy more than 7 years ago

Laptop and Ipad Seizure!!!!

This has happened to my friend in Berlin (the day before he leaves for NYC). The company mentioned here, Waldorf Frommer, have left him a letter and taken his computer and iPad. Any ideas on how to get it back??? It seems crazy that they can just take your stuff!! He was out as well so they did not have consent to be in his apartment or take his stuff. Surely this is illegal??? They are not the police!

Any advice much appreciated!

Zoe more than 7 years ago

Got a letter but didn't download...


I received a letter 2 weeks ago regarding some downloading during a time when I wasn't even in my flat. The IP address they stated doesn't match mine. I don't even listen to the style of music of the artist that I am supposed to have downloaded the music of, and have never had any of the files on my computer.I hide my wifi network so no one can even find it, so it isn't a question of someone else using my internet to download. Additionally, I have never downloaded anything since being here because I know how easy it is to get caught.

I was advised, since I have proof that it wasn't me, to ignore the letter. However, last week, I got the same letter sent, but this time by recorded post.

Can anyone advise me on next steps? I don't want to have to pay for a lawyer for something that I have not done at all.

Antonia Lim more than 8 years ago

Letter from law firm about movie that I did not dowload

what did you end up doing? same thing happened to me but with a movie

Geny more than 7 years ago

Get a lawyer

got more than one letter from the same firm for multiple downloads within a week done by a relative of mine who visited and did not know the rules. Decided to get a lawyer and he advised me to never sign the release (unterlassungs) form. the deadline on signing that form is usually within a week from receiving the letter which they do intentionally to scar you. The lawyer said he will be able to remove the fine or reduce it to 150 euro (the fine was 950 for every movie). after asking a lot and searching i think it is best to get a lawyer immediately or at least talk to one before doing anything.

Hamburg.visitor more than 8 years ago

got a letter too

Just got a letter for downloading an American TV show episode. I want to address this and would like to consult with a lawyer. Can someone recommend one for me?

Warpath more than 8 years ago

Keep calm

Chris, consult a lawyer first. Unless you know what they put in the cease and desist form, you may be setting yourself up for more legal grief. Remember, the law firm who sent the letter is trying to maximize what it can get, taking into account that many people will be too intimidated to get legal counsel.

(If your lawyer says ignore it, go to another.)

Xander more than 8 years ago


got a ltter, solicitor suggested to ignore. i am on benefits only, sould it be feasable to offer a monthly payment plan , they ahve agreed reduction to 600 euros but time is ticking.

sasha more than 8 years ago

Looking back

I got a letter for 1 episode that I downloaded 2 months ago-800€. Gonna get a cease and desist signed. I'm wondering tho, can they come after me still for all the downloads I've done in the 2 months between the one they got me for and the letter showing up? I was wrong, I got it. I didn't think it could happen to me and it did, but if I get a 800€ bill for the 30 things I've downloaded I'll be on debt for life. Anyone smart on this?

Chris more than 8 years ago

Paid the court.

Out lawyer gave us shitty advice saying ignore them and they'll most likely go away. However this wasn't the case. We ended up with a letter from a courthouse in Berlin demanding we payed the fine (well over €1,000). So we did.

We received a letter again for the SAME game. So now we are getting a new lawyer who will hopefully be able to help us with the problem and make it the past very soon. My suggestion to those looking for answer...get a lawyer and do not ignore the letters. There are lawyers in Germany who specialize in filesharing/illegal downloading. They can get you a reduced price and help solve your problems.

Roxy Skyy more than 8 years ago

what I want to know is...

...can they target you specifically and go back to see what you have downloaded AFTER it's passed? I got a letter targeting me for downloading but it was for something back in FEbruary 2012 (almost a year ago)...I'm wondering if I kicked up a stink if they'd be able to dig into my past activity to try and nail me for other stuff?

Skazzy more than 8 years ago

I believe your flatmate will be held responsible

Like the article says, those that own the connection are responsible for the Strafen. Whether you leave or not, he is legally responsible for the fine.

Walter Crasshole more than 9 years ago

Got a letter

I got a letter sent to the flat i am staying at. I leave in less than 2 weeks I won't even be in the country. But it's under my housemate's name. I don't know what i can do. What are my options?
Neither of us have the money to pay this crazy price. 500 euro for the lawyers to send a letter???
Is it worth it to just ignore it? I will be gone soon and he wasn't the one who downloaded it. But if gets called to court will he get in trouble?
Please help.

Simon more than 9 years ago

and anyways..

as i originally stated, regardless of your position on file-sharing vs. theft: these letters from people claiming to be lawyers representing corporations are scare tactics which by no means contribute to the artists who may or may not have been ripped off.

there is no proof required that the account holder has committed any downloading, whether or not that should be a crime. if anything, the account holder's privacy has been abused by their internet provider (who actually profits from uploading/downloading, remember).

it is a backwards attitude to chase file-sharers who do so for personal use. remember when the cassette came out, or cd? everyone cried wolf that it would be the death of vinyl and if anything the superior sound quality of— well almost ALL those mediums over mp3s— has guaranteed there will remain a market for recorded media.

i think some investigation into whether movie/music sales have actually been adversely affected by file sharing needs to be done before we can assume statistics given by record and film industry corporations are accurate or conclusive proof of "theft".

i wouldn't be surprised to find the sharing of information over the internet— other than file sharing— actually contributes to an increase in awareness of great bands, via blogs, forums etc providing FREE promotion of similar & under-exposed artist leading to more hype, more sales of concert & movie tickets, merchandise & erm, stuff!

digital is not the end of making a living. did any of us pay poor ben knight for his article? GASP— NO! we just stole it right off him! and I even sent a link to a friend! yet somehow i'm sure his bosses made sure he got paid— ok please tell me you got paid, ben? i really hope you're not one of those poor exploited interns...

herr james more than 9 years ago


@Alia Most downloads are for sampling reasons anyway. People don't even have the time to listen to all the stuff they snatch. Most of the downloaded music is given a try and if it doesn't click will rot on hard disks until the hard disks fail. The sermon "Each MP3 you snatch is 50 cent out of the artist's pocket" (or so) simply doesn't apply. Same goes for people who systematically download whole music history collections 24/7 - it's an obsession thing, but people would have NEVER spent the equal amount of money for music (simply because, well, no one but Bill Gates can afford spending 10.000 dollars each month for CDs which will be never listened to). on the other hand, artists never had it easy to make money - yes, sure, there was always the fab four, led zep, madonna, michael jackson and nirvana. ok, THEY made helluvabuck and still do.however, MOST artists have ALWAYS been struggling to make a dime and many never have made it. just being an artist was never a guarantee to a paycheck, but quite the opposite. of course, today music labels tell all those tales about the golden age when it was different - and most artists of today believe that crap. however, now, all of sudden, artists decide to stop making art just because it could turn out next month's rent will not be safe? why didn't they stop earlier, when it was just as well close to impossible to make a buck (and highly probable you'll lose some on the way)? and still: why isn't it considered stealing when I hand my cds or dvds over to my friends so they can watch it just as well? (btw. i love paying artists for the stuff they do when they offer a paypal donation button on their website. and i care enough to buy their stuff when I really care about the art and consider it support-worthy. other stuff: download it, listen to it once or twice, if it doesn't click I'll delete it as soon as i need the hd space)

Wotyla more than 9 years ago

got a letter

I got one of these letters! Haven't downloaded anything, and wasn't even in the country by then!
But I don't speak German very well and don't even know how to deal with it...
Anybody could recommend a layer?

Leo more than 9 years ago

missed again

my point.

being that there are a lot of grey areas - not just extremes here.

incorrectly you assume that file sharing = loss of sales = theft.
a. previously i worked at a radio station and never paid artists for their "work", nether did lots of others who heard their songs for free on the radio. but that exposure was used to encourage sales.
b.many albums i've had recommended/shared with me by friends have been so great i've snapped up a cd which i never knew about, so otherwise would never have bought and gone to concerts/festivals (indirectly benefitting other artists and industry worker bees) & purchased t-shirts, etc. sold at said concerts - again. so file-sharing downloading does contribute to profits - oh wait, now should i be instantly deserving of artists profits, such as so many "hard-working" promoters claim?

it is not black & white, most file sharing is victimless. perhaps people would never buy an album if they can download it, yes - but then again a lot of people would never buy albums anyway, so at least music/movies are being experienced while increasing potential audiences at future events to later collect over-priced back-catalogs or re-releases when bands inevitably reform, tour and make ten times a record/film deal's measly profit share.

for example, would the arctic monkeys even have a career without freely sharing their work originally online? ever since, record companies have been just as guilty as mercilessly harvesting mp3 downloads in order to discover the next best (un-signed) thing.

c. isn't debate fun? i mean, we could talk about the past or the status quo for ever... but i'd rather these well-off prats just came up with a better working model, so we could get on with having fun & enjoying music. it's almost embarrassing that a computer company is leading the market by their noses, let alone one that was set up with the core belief that intellectual property rights should be shared...

ps: modern market-research for film/music industry folk includes dummy-seeding fake files of upcoming releases on file-sharing sites in order to gauge the public interest. once again, proving the hypocrisy of industry claims that file-sharing is a one-way drain on artists/industry profits.

herr james more than 9 years ago

Byte ME, sweetheart

Filesharing has indeed changed things: people now expect to be able to enjoy the fruits of musicians'/filmmakers etc labour for free, as though they have a right to it. It's an old argument but most of us don't work for free, so why should the people making music/films etc? Your arguments are off the point and just serve to distract from the real issue. Lets be honest - for every MP3 you illegally download, thats one MP3 you won't buy. Same goes for film. The majority of people buying albums or paying for films do so because a. they have no interest in stealing them b. they can't find them to steal them. c. they don't know how to/it wouldn't occur to them. In most cases, it sure as hell isn't because they illegally downloaded them first.
Over and out.

Alia more than 9 years ago

byte me


your comments show an extreme view of file-sharing = theft. yet you show an ignorance of the many other ways in which artists have their livelihood stolen by deals and contracts set in place rewarding many lawyers and corporations with profits they didn't they earned by doing "hard work" no more exhausting than talking an artist into signing a contract transferring their ownership.

the current model is flawed. second hand dealers profit without contributing to artists' livelihoods, but that isn't theft. not all corporations are thieves just as not all file sharers are. a lot of people only download movies because they don't want to wait for a local release date - as determined by companies who control how and when an artists work is presented, often depriving the artist of income in the process. why don't you go call them thieves?

my point is that for a longtime very greedy corporations benefited from a monopoly on creating and distributing films and music. now technology has put the tools to do this into nearly anyone's hands, the game has changed.

chasing small-time occasional file-sharers is as much as a waste of time as chasing down everyone who ever recorded a song off the radio onto a cassette. i say again - if the quality is superior and the price is fair, people will still prefer to pay for a product. if companies want to retain their profits, they would be better off devising a delivery system that rivals downloading for convenience, availability & quality, such as itunes.

or how about chasing the companies that have PROFITED from file-sharing: hard drive manufacturers, internet providers, computer and software manufacturers, instead of trying to make examples of individual users? of course they won't do this - because these companies can afford to defend themselves in court and point out the obvious flaws in record/movie companies logic that file-sharing = theft.

herr james more than 9 years ago


@wotyla - Nonsense - you're stealing from someone's livelihood each time you decide to 'duplicate' someone's work for free rather than pay for it. So it is tantamount to theft. Calling it 'duplication' doesn't make the consequences of illegal downloading any less criminal, even if it eases your conscience.

Alia more than 9 years ago


@Alia - it's not stealing just as watching a movie at your friend's house is not stealing. stealing = taking something from somebody so you have what the other guy had before but now doesn't have anymore. duplicating something so another guy has what the other had and still has = not stealing.

Wotyla more than 9 years ago


why is do so many people have this sense of entitlement re; illegally downloading films and music. If you aren't prepared to get it via legal channels, why should you be entitled to have it? Musicians and filmmakers aren't benevolent organisations donating to the public. It's no good justifying stealing stuff by saying that 'the industry' and greedy mega-companies vampires are the only people profiting anyway. If you steal media, you are basically stealing from everyone in the chain of production from the lowly musician to the record company exec, film exec, people who, like everyone else, work hard to make a living. You deserve to get caught.

Alia more than 9 years ago

sue who?

this worries me - so how does a lawyer/ IP/ movie company prove the person who downloaded the film even lived at the address? so someone hacks your wi-fi, or downloads while at a free wi-fi hotspot & the account owner must pay? bullshit. i agree it is worrying that a potential shakedown like this is being used to scare people into settling out of court, without requiring proof of guilt to be established. i would have more sympathy for the industry getting ripped off if they hadn't been ripping people off for years - with artists receiving a fraction of ridiculous profits. interesting that this 'impoverished' and 'proft-decimated' industry can still afford to pay ridiculous lawyer's fees to screw over file-sharers. for a long time entertainment industries enjoyed scamming people because there was no other option. now there is a choice & people are getting them back. not every artist needs to make a killing, just a living. make movies cheaper & more easily accessible, or GASP! better quality you will see people are still happy to pay for entertainment.

herr james more than 9 years ago


@doodle you might notice, there's a bit of a flaw in your picture: going to the café and taking the book from your neighbor's table leaves the guy without the book. there's only one book and now you have it and not the person who had it before. same thing, regarding the supermarket. however, make an exact copy of something and now you have it AND the person who had it before. so, technically, you're not stealing - you're multiplying. that's a big difference. you wouldn't call it stealing, of course, if you'd hand over a dvd with a film you like to a friend for few days so he can see it, too. or watching a dvd with lots of friends in your house. or selling it on ebay after you had watched it. or renting one from the library or the rental store. each time, people watch the thing - with exact NO revenue for the artist (and basically, that's why people download a movie: they don't want to put it on the shelf in a nice usb stick, they wanna just watch the damn thing). however, I totally agree that artists should have revenue when people like their stuff (bigger corporations, well, I don't care soo much about): just as libraries, rental stores, selling stuff 2nd hand etc are legal in a way, we must find a way that artists might get some flowback while people are not criminalized multiplying (again: NOT stealing) their stuff.

Wotyla more than 9 years ago


I just found lovefilm the other day. Does anyone know if works in germany or do you have to subscribe to They seem to be two seperate services. Thanks for any more info.

Kyle more than 9 years ago


nobody would steal the book off a stranger's table in a cafe and then feel good about asking how to get away with it? We're not all permanently shoplifting in the supermarket either. Can never understand why people think it's any different with films and music. if nobody pays for movies or music, no movies or music will be made. The answer to avoiding the lawyers is not to down or upload material to which you don't own the copyright. Simple. It's really not that expensive to buy a movie or music. Not any more expensive than that beer in the supermarket or the cake at your bakery.

doodle more than 9 years ago


has anyone ever been busted in germany for streaming?

anna more than 9 years ago

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