Germany's culture minister has become enamoured of the copyright industries and is calling for copyright enforcement measures that look remarkably like a kind of ‘3-strikes and you're fined'.   But will he find himself in conflict with his Ministerial colleagues?


Bernd Neumann, Germany's Culture Minister last week called for a form of graduated response copyright enforcement measures. Speaking at  a Christian Democrat Media Night, to an audience of  copyright industry lobbyists, Herr Neumann said that German copyright law should be extended to incorporate what he called a Warnhinweismodell  (‘warnings and notification model). He also called for the ISPs to be made liable for copyright enforcement.


Herr Neumann's speech was typical of what we are now seeing policy-makers do in this area. They daren't come out publicly with what they are really planning, for fear of a PR backlash, so they couch it in words which are vague.  The model he described in his speech  suggests that

users who are alleged to have infringed copyright will get a warning.  The initial warning will be just that, and will not carry any  punishment. However,  repeat infringers - the number of repeat warnings is not specified  -  will be subjected to a ‘reaction which must be taken seriously'


What might that be?  Well, it seems to be understood that he means that there will be legal consequences to follow the warnings, and thus it follows the pattern of 3-strikes or graduated response. The words he uses are ‘einer kostenträchtigen Abmahnung'  which is awkward even in German and would literally translate as a 'caution pregnant with costs'.  But it appears to mean some kind of financial penalty  along with a caution. The wording does indicate that the users could  be asked to pay the costs of the action, but even that isn't not totally clear.


Bernd Neumann did  not mention  the sanction of cutting users' off the Internet - yet. However, other sources  - notably  the Hollywood mouthpiece Billboard magazine - suggests  that he intends to propose a law ‘much like France's Hadopi law', indicating that Internet cut-off sanctions could be somewhere on the policy agenda and in any case, the German rights-holders are pushing for it. 

I note that Billboard reports that the Minister announced a copyright enforcement policy, whereas the way I read the speech is that he is stating his intentions. 


A further indication of the direction of  Herr Neumann's thinking were in the words (translated by me)  ‘'the rights-holders ... are dependent on the co-operation of all those who profit from creative works. That  also includes the providers whose liability must  be developed further" 


The CDU Media Night was attended by senior  German politicians, including the Chancellor, Angela Merkel.  Among the industry guests  was  the head of the German IFPI member, BVMI, Frank Briegmann. According to the report in Billboard, Herr Briegmann  had a personal word with Frau Merkel about his requirement for stronger copyright enforcement measures.            


Previous  statements from the German government, which have positively rejected any kind of 3-strikes model. The Justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger,  has rejected the French Hadopi/3-strikes model, and, in a speech made almost exactly a year ago, she was  clear that web blocking measures are also out of the question .


 We can  pause for thought whether is Herr Neumann trying to work around Frau Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger ? Will he claim it's not  3-strikes because the users are fined and not cut off? You see, his friends in the copyright industries will help him sneak the cut-off in later.


Rede des Staatsministers für Kultur und Medien Bernd Neumann bei der Media-Night der CDU



Please attribute this article: Monica Horten (2011) Rücksprung durch Technik - will Germany shift to 3-strikes?  2 June  2011 .  

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