Redtube and Co.:Mere streaming of a movie not a copyright infringement

In four decisions of 24 January 2014, a civil chamber of the Regional Court of Cologne upheld complaints by connection holders who had been warned by "The Archive AG" for viewing a streaming video on the platform The court also upheld the complaints of the "The Archive AG".

According to the Chambere, the request of "The Archive AG" for the surrender of the names and addresses of Deutsche Telekom customers to be assigned to certain IP addresses should not have been granted. One of the decisions (file number 209 O 188/13) is available in anonymised form under the aforementioned link. Further decisions are expected shortly.

The board justified the deviation from its original decision by stating that the application of "The Archive AG" (applicant) referred to downloads, whereas in fact - as it later turned out - it was a matter of retrieving videos on a streaming platform. In contrast to a download, the mere streaming of a video file or its viewing by means of a stream does not, in the board's view, constitute a relevant unlawful infringement within the meaning of copyright law, in particular a reproduction only permitted to the author pursuant to Section 16 of the Copyright Act (UrhG). Moreover, since streaming was involved, it remained unclear how the investigative programme used was able to record the IP address of the person retrieving a stream from the provider's server at The IP address of the person retrieving the stream from the provider's server was also unclear. Even after the board had pointed this out during the appeal proceedings, the applicant had left the question unanswered as to how the programme was able to penetrate this two-way connection.

The board indicated that its decision could also have significance for a prohibition of the use of evidence in proceedings on the merits (e.g. on the justification of the warning costs).

The decisions are not legally binding (as of 27.01.2014). The applicant, for her part, may appeal against the decision that has now been made.

By 27 January 2014, the Cologne Regional Court had received more than 110 complaints against the decisions granting access to files in this matter. In addition to processing these numerous complaints, the priority at the moment is to respond quickly to all requests for file inspection. The possibility to get access to the essential documents quickly and unbureaucratically by fax is well accepted by the affected persons and their lawyers.

In some proceedings, the lawyer representing the applicant at the time resigned from the mandate. Reasons for this have not been given.

Source: Press release of the Cologne Regional Court

Goldberg Attorneys at Law 2014

Attorney at Law Michael Ullrich, LL.M. (Information Law)

Specialist lawyer for information technology law