New Media in Germany is like colors for the blind: No one has a clue.
Unfortunately this has serious negative consequences.
As of October the 7th, we have been sued.
It is always the same “agency” which is disturbing the blogger subculture here for no reason for years now. Unofficial estimates say they sent out 500-600 take down letters. Since January. Which makes it one of the most foul & most consequent campaigns against independent online writers _ever_ here in this strange European country.
To be clear: This is no serious business. Rumors have it that this agency scans weblog archives over and over and over again in hunting down the one picture/graphic/photo which is not referenced correctly and/or has gone viral after some bloggers mentioned it in an article. The next step seems to be that they obtain the rights for it, long after the content has gone viral, and sue the authors, claiming not only the freshly obtained rights but also suing even the smallest blogs for thousands of Euros.
Some of these authors are scared and close the blogs directly. Others simply have no money to defend themselves. In other cases an author simply is not able to sent back the declaration to cease and desist on time and runs into much bigger problems. Also, when sending back the default letter the agency sends you as an attachment you need to sign, you not only give up the rights to them for the next 30(!) years, but also are in danger being fined for another round of thousands of Euros. It’s an evil circle. A circle artificially created because German law to this date simply does not know or has any interest in creating safe harbors for shared content on the Internet.
Because, you know, as Chancellor Merkel already said: “The Internet is virgin territory for us all”. This was shortly after the Guardian revealed the extensive NSA snoopings going on for years. Yeah. Welcome to the “New World”! What a brave human you need to be in this world…
All the worst,
the aethyx staff