Help me: i was caught illegally downloading in Germany

We all have our reasons to turn to illegal download in Germany. For some it’s about binge-watching the latest HBO hit series, for others it’s about getting their hands first on the latest Coldplay album. Some even want to get their hands on a rare 1991 version of the Star-Wars trilogy. Whatever it is, you might have gotten away with it in your home country. However, illegally downloading copyrighted content in Germany is severely  condemned by law and is frequently enforced by private law firms who send cease and desist letters.

If you are reading those lines, you are probably holding an Abmahnung letter from a German lawyer asking you to pay a hefty fine because you were caught in the act. I will ask you not to panic and will reply to the many questions you have right now.

Warning letter illegal file sharing germany

Here is everything you want to know on how to respond to a warning letter for illegally downloading copyrighted content in Germany.

Illegal download of copyrighted material in Germany, the basic stuff

What am really guilty of ?

German laws concerning file-sharing are pretty strict and clearly condemn any kind of file sharing activity related to copyrighted content. While both download and upload are condemned by law, it’s really in reality the uploading part of the process that will be rewarded with a warning letter. Using services like torrent clients makes you automatically share the file you are downloading. This is why torrent and other P2P clients users receive a lot of letters from German lawyers.

Since April 2017, users of illegal streaming services (also broadcasting of live events) can also get in trouble because of a decision from the European Court of Justice. It established (here) that users of such services are indeed acting unlawfully. However, unlike P2P, it’s very difficult to identify users of such platforms as IP adresses are often not stored by these platforms in the long-term, making the enforcement unlikely. Only premium users can easily identified.

On the document, you might see a reference to the set of laws dealing with copyright infringement in Germany; Urheberrechtsgesetz” or “UrhG”. The article making it illegal is § 19a UrhG.

Who is responsible and who should pay?

German courts have stated that the owner of the internet access is in theory responsible for any wrong-doings happening on that network. They are responsible for securing it so other people don’t use it to download copyrighted content in Germany. This might bring up tensions if you are living in a WG and it’s not your name on the internet provider’s contract. In that case, the owner can “discharge” the fault onto the real culprit to be cleared of all charges if necessary.

How did they could identify me and find my address?

Those German law firms sending warning letters usually hire specialized third-party services that are scanning P2P nodes and clients, recording IP adresses that are currently downloading illegally in Germany. They are then authorized by law to ask your internet provider to disclose any information linked to that IP adress. This is how they obtained your private details.

Again, this is why law enforcement is really much more difficult to apply for illegal streaming services users. IP adresses are not stored on servers on the long-run and if the police should request a list, it’s only after a considerable amount of time. Beware however premium users; if you are paying a fee on one of those platforms, your IP will definitely be stored on the server, thereby increasing the risks of getting caught.

If you want to protect your traffic and use all services privately, you can get a VPN that will hide everything from anyone else. You can use NordVPN for example, which often considered one of the bests out there, especially since streaming works well with it and you connect up to 6 devices with one account (switch to English in the footer if needed).

Do they really have the right to fine me so much? Can it really go to court?

There is no clear set of rules that puts a figure on the fine you have received. It might be 900€ per illegally downloaded song in Germany or 2000€ for downloading a movie in Germany. The figure is entirely up to them. We will see later how it is possible to bargain it down a little. Although they do threaten to take this to court, it’s relatively quite rare it happens. It mostly an argument to scare you into paying fast and without asking any questions.

However, make sure to see the difference between the different fees mentioned in this document. There are fees for sending you this Abmahnung, the contract penalty & the fine mentioned as repair for their clients. Also note that a law passed in 2013 should limit Abmahnung and legal claim fees to 150€ & 450€ respectively.

Offense repairs on streaming cases are much lower, making it less profitable for law firms to pursue; legal claim fees remain the same as for P2P cases but the fine per film can only be 5 to 10€.

Is this a real German law firm and not a scam? Do they really work with the copyright holders?

Now this is a little tricky because it is true that some scam letters (e.g from non-existing “Kroner & Kollegen” law firm) have been sent around and they are not entitled to represent the copyright holder. However, most often than not, the warning letter for illegally downloading copyrighted content is a real one coming from a real law firm who represents company like Viacom, Sony, 20th Century Fox, etc.

Here are some law firms sending cease and desist letters in Germany (hat-tip to Raychenon.com):
Auffenberg, Petzhold, Witte; Baumgarten & Brandt; Bindhart , Fiedler, Zerbe; CSR; Daniel Sebastian; Denecke Haxthausen & Partner; Fareds; Johannes Rübenach; Kornmeier & Patner; Lihl; Lutz Schroeder; Marcus Meier; Marko Schiek; Negele; Nümann und Lang; Paulus; Philipp Marquort; Rainer Munderloh; Rasch; Reichelt, Klute, Aßmann; Sasse und Patner; Schalast & Patner; Scheuermann,Westerhoff, Strittmatter; Schutt, Waetke; SKW Schwarz; U+C; Vahrenwald & Kretschmer; Waldorf Frommer; WeSaveYourCopyrights; Winterstein; Zimmermann & Decker.

Rule number 1: Don’t panic and don’t send anything back

What is this “Unterlassungserklärung” document and what should i do with it?

Together with the warning letter establishing your identity and the content, there is another document called “Unterlassungserklärung”. This is the German equivalent to a cease and desist letter that the law firm wants you to sign to prove that you recognize yourself to be guilty of the accusations. Do not sign this document and do not send it back! By doing so, you would give more legal ground against you and would have to pay.

Cease and desist letter file sharing germany

Cease and desist letter for Downloading Deadpool (source: Quora.com)

Now tell me what can i do about this warning letter

There are different courses of action you can take at this point and i guess it depends on how bold you are and how good you are dealing with a possibly nerve-racking situation.

1- Pay-up right away

Let’s be honest now: those letters are an attempt at scaring you off and pressuring you into paying the full amount. This is even more impressive for a foreigner that doesn’t understand German completely. You shouldn’t panic and pay-up without asking any questions as there is room for negotiation. After all, you have to remember that it is not the government sending you those letters; the fine hasn’t been set by law.

2- Do nothing

While curling yourself in a ball and hoping that it will go away might not seem like the mature and adult thing to do, this reaction might still have a few arguments for it. Reacting this way is basically counting on the weaknesses of the system; those German law firms are very busy you see. They send hundred of thousands of warning letters a year to the average Joe for illegally downloading movies in Germany. They know very well that they won’t be able to handle each individual case manually so they might no simply follow-up, should you not reply to their first Abmahnung.

Then again, there is also a good chance that you might be part of the chosen ones for whom it doesn’t go away. If they do follow-up, additional legal fees might occur and it can be enforced. This is a risk you take if you pick this option.

Doing nothing is a viable option but it can back-fire at you

3- Seek legal counselling

They come at you with legal weaponry? It’s then maybe time to gear up with some of your own and get in touch with a lawyer. Judging from the cases i have heard around me and in forums around the internetz, this seems to be a popular option. It’s a good compromise between costs, stress & time spent dealing with a fine for illegal file sharing in Germany. Sure, it’s not cheap but you might in turn save hundreds of euros for negotiating a cheaper fine or even not paying it all.

What a lawyer will do is to send a modified cease and desist letter in your behalf that basically says that you are sorry for what happened but you still don’t recognize that you are guilty and that you won’t do that in the future.

Fees for doing so with German lawyers specialized in copyright infringement cases can vary. It’s really worth it in a lot of cases. If you don’t know where to start your search, Jurato is a good option. It’s a platform that connects you with recognized specialists in their fields. Payment is secured and all communication made in English.

I wish you good luck in fighting against the odds. I hope this post helped you understand your situation.

 

Also, if you want to use your internet access as you want, don’t forget you can fully hide your traffic with a good VPN like NordVPN. Considered one of the bests on the market, safe and easy to use, it works well for this kind of use too.

Edit 1: This question was asked many times in the comments:

“I used torrents or streamed this piece of content [insert movie or music here], and i didn’t know about the rules in Germany! What are the chances to be caught and receive a letter?”

Answer: There are no rules defining the probability that you could get caught, and also no way to tell the delay with which you can receive this letter. Only time can tell.

Edit 2: This question was asked many times as well:

“I used another service download content (Gdrive, WeTransfer, some random platform, etc), what are the risks?”

Answer: This post is about torrenting and streaming. I cannot answer about any other means or technologies.

Disclaimer: this post is purely for informative purpose about what to do when caught illegal file sharing in Germany. It doesn’t replace the counselling for a professional attorney. Please make sure you fully understand your situation before taking any action. Better safe than sorry <3 <3 <3.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

Also a big thank you to Oliver from the Frankfurt Expat blog, whose post on the legality of streaming helped me fine tune some details of this article.
If you are living near or around Frankfurt, check his blog out, it’s a good read to discover the city.

432 Comments

  • Reply Stressed College Kid 16/06/2019 at 09:32

    Is it safe to download or torrent if I’m using a VPN? I have express VPN which is pretty good so I’m just wondering if that’s enough to protect me.

  • Reply GeorgeWayne 23/04/2019 at 16:21

    hello,i have a question. I understand you all told about the law,but i want to ask something else.IF you have in your google drive account some movies,and you are allready in Deutchland,be allowed to download this movies to your person computer,i meen from your google drive to your pc?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 25/04/2019 at 21:10

      Hey George. As i have replied many times before; this post is about torrent and streaming, not direct downloads. The real question you probably want to ask is ” Can i get caught?”.

      • Reply Georgewqynw 28/04/2019 at 10:15

        No,not exactly.just you already talked about the torrents and streaming but a lot of people didn’t know what happening with direct downloads,from google drive, outlook tsc tsc.Is the law same or no.Because all cloud services from all companies have “privacy”.

      • Reply marinashala 14/05/2019 at 00:25

        Hi there! I wanted to ask you something. Yesterday I created a deezer account for free for 1 year method which it’s almost 100 euros, but I did it for free through some ways I saw on youtube! So I want to know if this is risky, and how can I get caught? Cause when I created the account I changed the IP adress and the informations of the account are not mine! Please help me, I wanna know if I’m at risk, and how can I get caught for example? How do they know who I am and where do I live…

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/05/2019 at 14:19

          Hey Marina. This is just way beyond what this post is about. Sorry can’t help you. Don’t want to give you any false answers.

    • Reply Mike Hunt 17/06/2019 at 09:48

      And learn some English!

  • Reply Mike 19/04/2019 at 13:23

    Hi Bastien,

    I have a question regarding the grey area of this whole subject of (i)llegal downloads. So, reading some materials on the internet I understood that the main issue is file sharing, rather than direct download (for your own use), right?

    What about downloading subtitles through websites like YIFY, OpenSubtitles or SubScene? Is it legal? Can you be fined for downloading subtitles from those websites since you do not share them?

    Thank you!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/04/2019 at 20:14

      Hey Mike. This post is about streaming and torrenting. Direct downloads are not concerned by what is said in the post.

  • Reply Lukas 13/04/2019 at 22:28

    Hello, i have downloaded the Episode 1 from One Punch Man (Season 2) and when it was over i deleted it and the file , it is a Korean anime. My Question is, do Animes Count as big firms like WB, 20th Century Fox , Disney etc? How About watching a movie on web but not downloading it? Just like Youtube or Netflix but free.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/04/2019 at 10:09

      Hey Lukas. I am not a copyright expert so my guess is a good as yours. Streaming is addressed in the post.

  • Reply Stefano 21/03/2019 at 12:31

    Hey there have a question,what about Plex? if i stream movies betweeb my family members this is still illegal? and for the rest of the people just use a vpn for torrenting,i pay 56 euros membership for one year on NordVpn and have never encounter any problem in Germany.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/03/2019 at 20:00

      Hey Stefano. Don’t know about Plex sorry. This post is about torrenting and streaming.

  • Reply Louise 18/03/2019 at 17:50

    Hi,

    I was visiting someone in Germany (I’m not German) and I downloaded a movie (without knowing that it was that much forbiden in Germany…) and the flatmate (who is the owner of the internet) of my friend got a letter with an amount of 900€ to pay. However he was not there at the time of the facts and can prove it easily. He hired a lawyer since he is the one attacked. The lawyer told him that it was very likely that the lawyers who wrote the letter would not look further to find the real person who downloaded. Is it true ? Or should I also already hire a lawyer? Do you already hear some cases like that?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 21/03/2019 at 09:38

      Hey Louise. You have obtained professional advice and probably paid for it. I’d follow that the pros have to say if i were you. They have the experience.

  • Reply Kieran 16/03/2019 at 00:30

    I am an international student and I am coming to Germany soon. Will there be a risk if i bring my laptop full of downloaded torrent files and I uninstall my torrent software before reaching germany ? Like I just keep the media files only

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/03/2019 at 18:15

      Hey Kieran. I cannot tell you what to do. I can only tell you that sharing files is forbidden.

    • Reply Vuk 22/04/2019 at 11:21

      Of course you can . Many of my friends bring terabytes of data into Germany. No one is going to hack your computer in order to check for media files xD How can someone now what is on your computer if your are not sharing your files, and who can say that you didnt pay for those movies while you were in your country.

  • Reply Anna 14/03/2019 at 16:51

    Hi! Did you heard about cases, when someone received a warning from these lawfirms, then paid for lawyer to hàndle it and then (!) After 2 years got new warning letter about these old case, when they scarying you about going to court etc.
    That’s my case, after 2 years I received letter from Waldorf &Frommer about my old case. In that situation, I have no idea what to do. Did anyone heard about similar situation?

    • Reply Sylvain 20/05/2019 at 16:49

      I have the exact same case right now – from Waldorf &Frommer. I contacted my lawyer, I am supposed to see her next week (we have to oppose the court order within 2 weeks , they ask for 1300 euros…)
      What did you do?

      • Reply CA 06/06/2019 at 19:27

        i have a same case too… so sad and don’t know what to do…
        i will contact my lawyer and it just feels like Waldorf &Frommer are really blood sucker..

  • Reply Suicide? 10/03/2019 at 10:13

    Hi,
    I messed up, I admit it. I was not aware of this policy in Germany so I had downloaded some new movies in my first week here in Germany.
    I am sure I will get the Abmahnung letter worth thousand of euros in coming weeks.. And I am just a student! My question is, do lawyers who help you prepare cease and desist letter, (in avarge ofc) get you to pay around 600€ (that is how much I found ic couple of examples) per movie or for whole lawsuit?
    I am desperate 🙁

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 10/03/2019 at 14:12

      Hey there. The unfortunate answer is “it depends”. Depends on how many movies, from how many copyrights holders, how often, etc.

      • Reply Suicide? 21/03/2019 at 17:32

        Thank you for reply.
        The lawyer I contacted said letters usually arrive in two weeks after downloading. Do you share opinion with him?

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/03/2019 at 20:02

          Hey Greg. I have no statistics on the delay between infringement and letters. sorry.

    • Reply Liutauras 15/03/2019 at 14:15

      It was downloading or file sharing?

    • Reply Sruthi 07/05/2019 at 18:41

      Hey. I am in the same situation as you. Did you receive any letter?

  • Reply Dounia Munir 04/03/2019 at 16:22

    Hi , just received Waldorf-Frommer cease and desist letter. I never did streaming neither file sharing. I did nothing but paid my Netflix account. It cant be that I have to pay for doing NOTHING at all.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 06/03/2019 at 23:03

      Hey Dounia. If you have done nothing at all, check first that there no wrong uses of your WiFi by someone else than you.

  • Reply Cedric 22/02/2019 at 10:06

    Hi there,

    I have a couple of questions:
    – I read that some videos on youtube are banned in Germany. Given that there are numerous movies available on Germany, what if we watch a movie on youtube, is is considered as illegal? I always thought any content on youtube was fine.
    – Regarding streaming content: what is the definition of ‘legal streaming websites’ vs ‘illegal streaming websites’? For example, there are many Russian streaming websites and we are used to watching movies or series on such sites but I never asked myself what is allowed and what is not… Any ideas?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/02/2019 at 09:32

      Hey Cedric. Again just an opinion here. Watching content on Youtube is fine. An example for a legal streaming service would be Netflix or Hulu.

  • Reply Matteo 14/02/2019 at 18:20

    Hi,

    I am in Berlin for several months and I have a mobile roaming connection of another european phone company of another country
    I maybe will need some patches for softwares,.
    If I use my mobile connection, there is a possibility of been caught?
    Teamviewer is traced? If I will control a my pc in my native country to send me something on my mail, to download here in Germany, there are any risks?

    Thank you very much

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 15/02/2019 at 11:43

      Hey Matteo, as mentioned before, i cannot provide answers for each use case/scenario as it is way beyond my humble knowledge. This post is about streaming and torrenting. Direct downloads are much harder to trace in my opinion.

  • Reply Lina 06/02/2019 at 08:19

    Hi, i’ve been living in germany since august. I got caught downloading a movie and received my letter. Now before i came to Germany i still had a lot of movies on my laptop’s harddrive but not on my bittorrent. I deleted everything but will i still have problems with those other movies i had on my laptop?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/02/2019 at 12:01

      Hey Lina. This post is about Torrenting while being in Germany. If you haven’t been sharing those files while being in Germany, there is no probably no cause for concern for these files, as far IP detection is concerned.

  • Reply Alighiero 01/02/2019 at 23:20

    Hi,
    First of all, thanks for your great post, which provides me a lot of helpful information (thanks to all of commenters, too). I’ve followed your recommendation of the Jurato, to search a specialized lawyer to take care of my file sharing case, and I accepted one from several offers and paid (with a flat rate), but since then I didn’t hear back from him for more then one week. Are you sure this platform is trustworthy? Because now I feel I’m double f***ed, on one hand I have a lawyer firm is chasing me for a fine, on another hand have a paid lawyer that leaves me in cold. It feels so bad and so stressed.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 08/02/2019 at 11:30

      Hey Alighiero. Jurato is legit yes, but still you should get decent service. It’s no excuse.

  • Reply Vrisyloex 30/01/2019 at 00:45

    Hi, i am an international student and currently living in Cologne, Germany. I’ve just downloaded some videos from Google Drive (i don’t really download them, the videos are in offline mode, they’re not in my phone, they’re only in my google drive). Should i be worried since these files are from an account in Twitter? Is that considered illegal to have some videos offline in google drive?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 31/01/2019 at 15:22

      Hey there. I can’t answer on this particular case because this post is about torrenting and streaming. This would be considered direct download i guess.

  • Reply Krillow 27/01/2019 at 21:37

    Hello hello, sooo i have moved to germany for some months ago and on the 28 december i downloaded 6-8 movies from thepiratebay. One from warner bros that i got a charge on (950 euro)
    I got it yesterday (26-01-2019)

    Should i be dead worried about the other movies aswell? (the others aint from warner bros)

    So my question is should i contakt a lawyer and tell them about it or whats the plans? I had no idea it was this strict….

    Girlfriend dead worried, thinking i will end up in jail

    Greetings/
    Me

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/01/2019 at 09:29

      Greetings Krillow. Yes, you should be worried. If you also get caught for the other movies, you will get a letter for each of them. Each of those could be processed as separate cases. If you contact a lawyer, it’s a good idea to disclose all relevant information. Good luck with this!

  • Reply Fukasve 26/01/2019 at 18:04

    Me and my girlfriend are aware of fines and that is why we are never going to use totrent or any illegal site for watching or downloading …we have vodafone internet and as any other modem we can share homebox to other users of vodafone , we got mail about some movie we didnt watch or hear about it. And ip addres is wierd and i can check which device is connected or were connected and i can not find that “user” who tryed to download movie for 40sec as stated in letter. What should we do…can vodafone check that for us. Or can we do anything else to fight so we do not get punished bicause of someone else being bad person. Thank you.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 26/01/2019 at 20:45

      Hey Fukasve. It’s hard to say what Vodafone could tell you or if they would be willing to do so. Depends if the modem has dynamic IP and other stuff i suppose. If that is truly a mistake, you can still hire a lawyer to decide the best course of action.

      • Reply Fukasve 27/01/2019 at 11:07

        Yes..i will have to fight against it. Google has “myactivity” feature and i have proof i was not watching “12 strong” for 40 seconds as stated. I have history from all devices connected in my flat and i will go to vodafone to ask about MAC address ,ip address tells me its not any of my devices and MAC will just confirm it more alongside with history proof.
        Worst of all when i read how they will give me smaller fine from 1700€ to 915€ it gets even more suspicious.

        • Reply screw waldorf 05/02/2019 at 19:08

          Hi Fukasve, I just received similar letter, with exactly same amount of fee (reduced to 915 euros from 1700). And they claim I watched some movie I have no idea about for 7 mins, which I didnt do. Can you update on your case? Did hiring a lawyer help, was it worth it?

  • Reply Ryel 25/01/2019 at 00:22

    Using a VPN can prevent this kind of warning and fines? I just had my DSL connection installed.

  • Reply DT 19/01/2019 at 20:26

    Hi,

    I visited my family in Germany and watched some movie online, bla bla they got a letter 915 euro. Question is, if they put the blame on me (I live in Denmark), and I get then the letters, it would be safe to assume that I can throw them out right?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 20/01/2019 at 12:54

      HEy Dragos. Again, you may want to check with a lawyer but from things i have read on forums and here, this is not a safe assumption and they may chase you in DK too.

  • Reply Sam 13/01/2019 at 01:10

    Hey, i had some movies which was downloaded in my home country and its legal to download movies there. Anyway i watched one of these movies in here (Germany) then I received this Abmahnung letter. The thing that I am wondering is if I can you use my laptop after resetting my laptop or should I do something more advanced for it?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/01/2019 at 22:43

      Hey Sam, i can’t assist you on this particular issue, i’m not IT professional.

  • Reply Lokesh 11/01/2019 at 23:21

    Hello there! Which companies are hiring these lawyers to send these letters / sue the people using internet? Any idea please?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 18/01/2019 at 22:41

      Hey Lokesh. You can check the practices’ websites for more details but all the big Copyright holders like Viacom, Sony, Disney etc…

  • Reply P E N N Y 01/01/2019 at 20:24

    Hello. I have a question. We are staying with my friend in Germany for a few weeks and she won’t let me download ANYTHING for fear we will have to pay fine. Now, can I download apps from the Crome Web Strore, Playstore or pictures from these apps: Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter and Google? Is it still illegal?
    What about videos from TWITTER/INSTAGRAM that I download on this websites; http://twittervideodownloader.com/error |
    https://www.10insta.net/#grid-gallery ?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 02/01/2019 at 15:49

      Hey Penny. This comment section holds no counselling value and is about streaming or downloading via torrent nodes. Direct downloads maybe illegal all the same depending on the material’s license, it’s just a matter or whether or not you can be caught.

      • Reply Barry 28/01/2019 at 18:48

        I believe it’s legal to download videos from such websites as:

        https://twittervideodownloader.com
        https://ssstwitter.com
        https://www.10insta.net

        You can even find Google Chrome extensions in the official store which help you download videos form Twitter and Insta. If Google allows, you are safe.

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 29/01/2019 at 09:30

          Hey Barry. Be careful with the use of such tools. Although the use of the tool itself is not illegal, it’s what you download with it that might be.

  • Reply Emil 05/12/2018 at 14:12

    Hi, I now recieved a letter from WarnerBros lawyer 3 years ago for movie piracy. I since the begining hired a lawyer to take care of the lawsuit.
    WarnerBros wanted me to pay 2000 euros..
    Now once or twice a year warnerbros lawyers and my play pingpong, What can be stressy since they still didn’t give up or offer me to pay a smaller amount of money.
    The question is, do you have any idea of how long can it last before they give up on the lawsuit or offer a win win situation?
    Or is there anychance it happen?
    Btw the case didn’t go to court yet. My lawyer told me there is 5% chance it goes to court but he couldn’t really answer my other question.
    If you have any idea i will be happy.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 05/12/2018 at 18:31

      Hey Emil. Your lawyer cannot answer because there is simply no rule for these sort of things. Timeline also vary a lot. Good luck with this !

  • Reply Chris 28/11/2018 at 14:04

    I stayed in a Airbnb in Germany.
    I am not a German citizen and my computer when switched on, automatically opens uTorrent. I had some Torrents downloading in the background, I didnt know it was illegal to DL or UL in Germany. I was there just for a trip. I have payed money before to close / settle the cases. But now after 2 years I have received from the owners of the Airbnb a letter that I need to pay money again. I have written to them that I am not paying one more cent for a case 2 years old for which I was told is closed. I was told if I pay the settlement it will close the case. Now they want money again. I wonder if they will try to get money even tho I am not a German resident?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/11/2018 at 09:35

      Hey Chris. The honest answer is “it depends” unfortunately. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.

  • Reply Ek 26/11/2018 at 00:37

    HI Team,

    I have just purchased premium VPN account and staying near Nuremberg from last 18 months. Could you please let us know what are the advantages of having paid vpn services while surfing and downloading in Germany.

    With my paid VPN connected, Can I download any music content from websites as a.zip file/.mp3 file) , software content via torrent link or by free download of .exe or.zip file with 30 days trial version ?

    Thank you team.
    Best Regards,
    Ek

  • Reply MJG 24/11/2018 at 00:41

    I guess I am one of the unlucky ones that got a court order Mahnbescheid. I ignored the letters as there is no way to prove I actually got one. They usually come in a white envelope. This time the letter came in a signed and dated yellow envelope. I was reading that you can check ‘nein’ and send the letter back and they will have to sue you in civil court and actually prove their case against you. I have 2 weeks to send the letter back or within 2 weeks a bailiff will begin debt enforcement. I was just wondering if I do check ‘nein’ and force them to take me to court, how long is the process before they actually order me to court? I am leaving Germany in 5 months and do not plan to return everrrrr!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/11/2018 at 15:09

      Hey MJG. I think you are better off seeking professional advice as it may be on a case by case basis.

      • Reply MJG 25/11/2018 at 10:40

        Thank you! I did see a lawyer on base and they told me to pay it… I just want to tie up the courts long enough to get the Hell out of here!

        • Reply Mari 06/12/2018 at 15:29

          Is the amount being charged by charged in the court order the same as in the first few notifications from the lawyers you have received?

  • Reply unlucky 22/11/2018 at 23:08

    alright i red what u wrote but i cant seem to comprehend how can they find me…i am on a public unprotected wifi in a hostel using a laptop which i bought off in a store but never did give any info…
    so i go on a pornsite and use stream ripper to save the videos for later…
    i dont see how its possible for them to find me…they can only trace it back to the public wifi but even so why would they want to coz then they would have to find who did download it and any1 could…i already changed mac adress when i remembered its punishable here…i downloaded like 100 movies and clips….should i expect 100 letters of 900 euros lol??
    if so, when should they come???
    if they dont come in month or two am i off the hook??

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/11/2018 at 15:06

      Hey there. In short: no one knows.

  • Reply Florian 21/11/2018 at 21:09

    Hi, I’m sharing a house with some school colleagues, one of them has his name on the contract, but we split the bill.
    The contract holder of the internet received a letter which says he needs to pay 900 euros for an illegal video download(there is an IP address on the letter), can we find out on which device was the file downloaded to? or is it a way to detect exactly who made the download? Because the contract holder asked to split the fine but I did nothing wrong and I don’t think I should pay for someone else’s fault.
    Thanks!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/11/2018 at 15:01

      Hey Florian. The IP address is linked to the router but maybe the letter indicates the MAC address? This identifies the device responsible for it. And evidently: whoever did this should pay the fine fully.

  • Reply sakis 21/11/2018 at 18:16

    Hello
    I receive a MAHNBECHEID from WALDORF FROMMER .Its a download i didn’t do but might a friend who visit me from Greece, watch a movie which he download in Greece.
    What should i do.I am unemployed in Arbeitzam.I m desperate !

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/11/2018 at 14:59

      Hey Sakis. Your options are listed in this post. Good luck.

  • Reply Aleks 15/11/2018 at 12:38

    Hi, I have a question about Iggy games (or something like that), I am usually buying new games on Steam, but sometimes when I just want to try some new game (and later refund), sometimes Steam refuse my refund request. So I will like to try some new games (before I buy originals), and I sow a lot of tham on this Iggy games web site. Looks they are all connected to direct link (Megaupload.nz qnd Googledrive), so I am asking how risky is that to download in Germany? Thanks in advance

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 15/11/2018 at 21:23

      Hey Aleks. I have no knowledge on this but in general, if it’s copyrighted material that you should pay for, yes that would be illegal. Regarding risks; it’s in the post already.

  • Reply Juana 13/11/2018 at 00:09

    Hello!

    I have a question.. using Sci-Hub is also considered illegal download of copyrighted material ? http://sci-hub.tw/

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 15/11/2018 at 21:10

      Hey Juana. Judging from the homepage, yes is probably the answer.

  • Reply Ami 11/11/2018 at 09:41

    Hi!

    I am an international student and currently in Germany. I came here 1 month ago. Yesterday, I removed a movie downloaded from PC when I was in my home country. But, my torrentz file has automatically run and today morning I saw the movie has downloaded again. But, I did not do on my purpose it and I removed all torrent files and related softwares from my PC. Is there any authorized body to inform about this situation and explain that I am not guilty for the situation. By the way I live in NRW- Dortmund.

    Thank you.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 11/11/2018 at 21:47

      Hey Ami. Nope.

  • Reply Madhav 27/10/2018 at 16:28

    Hi i brought my friends laptop in that he watched porn movies unfortunately when i connected net and searched every thing porn movies opened is it a problem will it cause any fine or its not a problem.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 30/10/2018 at 10:10

      Hey Madhav. I don’t really understand the question and it doesn’t seem related to torrenting or streaming that much…

  • Reply Rr 21/10/2018 at 07:22

    Just out of curiosity…can people download material from Telegram Legally?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 23/10/2018 at 17:50

      Hey Rr, Copyright infringement is always illegal, no matter the channel or tool used.

  • Reply Simon 18/10/2018 at 20:47

    Hey, it’s me again.

    Just wanted to ask about this software called KINOVEA https://www.kinovea.org . I visited its official website and it says it’s free to download and it’s an open source. Is it 100% legal to download this software? Sorry if it sounds like a stupid question but from now on I’m gonna be really cautious with all the downloads in Germany.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 19/10/2018 at 10:08

      Hey Simon. Well it seems that you know the answer already: free to download. Soooo…

    • Reply mike 23/10/2018 at 08:49

      Hi Simon I think this one is a trap, please do not use it you get get huge fines through the post.

  • Reply Simon 16/10/2018 at 21:06

    Hi,

    I have a few questions regarding downloading in Germany, I hope you can help.

    1. I arrived in Germany 3 weeks ago as an exchange student for 4 months and didn’t know anything about this illegal downloading thing. For my master’s thesis I’ll be doing some football match analysis, therefore, I needed to download some last season Champions league games. I downloaded quite a few but NOT through torrent (I don’t have torrent installed on my laptop). I downloaded through these websites (www.fullmatchesandshows.com and fullmatchsports.com) but the websites redirected me to openload and MEGA.nz (the downloading was direct from there). Is downloading through these websites trackable? Should I be worried?
    2. What about watching football online? Watching live streams? Is it trackable? Because I also did that.

    3. What about downloading podcasts from websites like BBC sport? They are made available to open public.

    Thanks for your answers.

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 17/10/2018 at 09:32

      1- It is direct downloads. You can’t track that the same way you can track torrent nodes.
      2- Please refer to the streaming part of the post.
      3- Well, that’s a podcast made available by the BBC, so yeah, that’s legal-

  • Reply Hasan Mahedi 12/10/2018 at 00:02

    Hi, Recently I have arrived in Germany as an international student. I have a bit torrent software in my laptop but i didn’t do anything with that. I used my friend’s wifi to do my university work in the laptop and that is only for few minutes. I didn’t download or upload anything. When i came to know about the law i immediately uninstall the torrent. However, My friend said, he got a letter with a fine and this is because of my laptop. Is it really because of me? I didn’t do anything with the software. So why i have to pay?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 12/10/2018 at 10:28

      Hey Hasan. You have to look in the logs of the software, it only takes a few seconds to share files via torrent nodes. You can compare the files you shared with what’s indicated on the letter.

      • Reply John 30/04/2019 at 12:08

        A friend of mine downloaded a couple of episodes series from Netflix UK whilst at my House he has an account with Netflix UK so why is this illegal by the way I have received a letter from Waldorf Frommer demanding 1600€

        • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 01/05/2019 at 22:41

          Dafuq. No that’s not illegal.

          • Hanamant 18/05/2019 at 17:15

            Hello All,
            I have downloaded two images from one of the traveling guide website “https://www.lonelyplanet.com/”.

            Can anyone please tell me,
            If I get penalty for this….? How much I can get…!!?
            It’s a direct download.. but in the above website they mentioned that, all information is copy write protected.
            I really didn’t noticed this one and downloaded… Can anyone please help out this..!!

            Thank you

          • Bastien - Settle in Berlin 22/05/2019 at 09:26

            Hey Hanamant, this post is about torrenting and streaming so i can’t really answer. My personal opinion is that it’s fine.

  • Reply sim 11/10/2018 at 16:51

    Hi,
    i watched a movie at popcorn time and has been sued by WALDORF-FROMMER while i was giving a visit to my mom in germany now she got the letter but i have transfered all the information on my name. but i am not willing to pay the amount of 915 euros because i didnt get any kind warning for not using it.
    is there any kind of help i can get regarding this ? or anyone or lawyer i could consult????

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