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Who’s getting busted?

Official stats for 2011 haven’t been released yet, but according to the Verein gegen den Abmahnwahn (Society Against the Cease-and-Desist Madness), around 575,000 letters were sent out in 2010, and Solmecke says there were likely at least as many last year. (42 percent were sent out regarding mp3 music files, 29 percent for movies, 22 percent porn, and the rest divided among software, video games and e-books.)

The figures also show that companies are getting a lot more serious about chasing down filesharers. Back in the free and easy times of 2007, law firms only sent out letters regarding 62 copyrighted works. By the end of 2010, it was 3677, and they were demanding total fees and damages of €412 million.

That’s obviously not what ends up getting paid though – only half of filesharers pay up without a murmur. The rest go to a lawyer and sign a modifizierte Unterlassungserklärung (modified cease-and-desist declaration) which includes a fixed, but lesser penalty.