German Copyright Firm Plans to Out Porn Pirates

German Copyright Firm Plans to Out Porn Pirates
Rhett Pardon

REGENSBURG, Germany —  A German law firm on Sept. 1 plans to reveal the names of as many as 150,000 online users who allegedly traded porn through file-sharing networks.

Urmann and Colleagues name partner Thomas Urmann told German online news site Wochenblatt that his firm has contacted the 150,000 alleged porn pirates, asking for settlements for poaching and trading various titles by a number of adult studios who he declined to identify.

Each of the 150,000 alleged porn pirates have been asked to pay up  €650 to drop allegations of copyright infringement with a first letter and, in a second correspondence, the fee escalates to €1286.80.

But now the firm is ratcheting up moves to bring in more revenue — it plans on a three-strikes-you're-out approach and will post names of the alleged porn pirates on its website.

Urmann and Colleagues, one of the country's largest intellectual property law firms, has even hinted on focusing on those who may have downloaded at embassies of Arab countries.

The Regensburg, Germany-based firm said it's within legal rights to publish the names, even though the accused have not stood trial, because of a 2007 German Constitutional Court ruling that found it permissible for law firms to publish names of potential "opponents" for advertising purposes.

Critics of the firm's threat to publish names said the ruling was intended to allow firms to publish the names of companies, not private individuals and that publishing the list would amount to invasion of privacy, as well charges of defamation.

But Urmann and Colleagues plans to publish an undetermined number of  names anyway on Sept. 1. The firm said that even if it is able to collect half of proposed settlements, the proceeds would amount to €90 million.

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