Have you received a copyright infringement warning letter (urheberrechtliche Abmahnung)?

Here’s what you need to know.

I. What is a “Abmahnung”?

A copyright infringement warning letter is a cheaper out-of-court way of
resolving a conflict between two parties. The intellectual property holder
accuses you of having uploaded a movie, television series, image, song, sample,
etc. protected by copyright. 
Having received a “Abmahnung”, you have probably been using filesharing software such as bitorrent, eMule, popcorn time or any other peer to peer connection software. 
According to German copyright law, the act of circulating a protected work is forbidden. When downloading through a peer-to-peer connection, you’re actually uploading fragments of the protected content at the same time, providing other file sharing software users with this content simultaneously.

II. Can I be personally held liable?

The question depends on your individual case. 
Having said that, I strongly advise you not to sign the enclosed
declaration to cease and desist. You should know that you are signing a binding
 The wording of said declaration is crucial and needs to be checked by
a professional. 
You’ve received the “Abmahnung” because you’re the line owner. However, if you haven’t uploaded the protected content yourself, chances are good that you cannot be held liable, when your kids, guests or a third party was using your Wi-Fi for example.  
However, a breach of duty of care (“Störerhaftung”) could be established. This needs to be examined on a case-by-case basis.

III. What do I have to do?

The question depends on your individual case. 
Having said that, I strongly advise you not to sign the enclosed
declaration to cease and desist. You should know that you are signing a binding
contract. The wording of said declaration is crucial and needs to be checked by
a professional. 
You’ve received the “Abmahnung” because you’re the line owner. However, if you haven’t uploaded the protected content yourself, chances are good that you cannot be held liable, when your kids, guests or a third party was using your Wi-Fi for example.  
However, a breach of duty of care (“Störerhaftung”) could be established. This needs to be examined on a case-by-case basis.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me, should you have any questions.