Germany slaps cap on fines for illegal music downloads
Nov 17, 2006, 16:35 GMT
Berlin - Music company lawyers who impose huge fines for illegal music downloads are to face a cap of 50 euros (64 dollars) per case in Germany, the government in Berlin announced Friday.
'The limitation for the first warning letter from a lawyer ensures that we don't exaggerate in punishing copyright breaches,' said Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries. The maximum applies to those who download music without intending to resell it.
German teenagers have been keen users of online sites offering MP3 music files, many of them illegally copied.
To fine the downloaders, the music industry has been using a provision of German law that allows lawyers to force wrongdoers to write apologies, and then to pay the law firm's entire bill.
In future, the law firms would only be able to charge members of the public 50 euros per incident for this service.
Announcing draft legislation, Zypries said it would also increase powers to prevent product piracy, enabling German customs agents to rapidly destroy counterfeit goods that imitate famous brands.© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur