The German Federal Supreme Court decides on cease and desist claims against access provider in a copyright infringement case.

The Society for Musical Performing and Mechanical Reproduction Rights (GEMA) has sued Germany’s biggest telecommunication company, because it has rendered access for its customers to websites from which copyright protected music could be downloaded. On November 26, 2015, the German Federal Supreme Court has decided (I ZR 3/14 and I ZR 174/14) that a telecommunication company, which gives access to its customers to the Internet, can be held liable as a “disruptor” if third parties use this access to make, in an infringing manner, copyright protected works available to the public. A precondition, however, is that reasonable control obligations have been ignored. Furthermore, the German Federal Supreme Court has made the following restriction: “The liability of the company providing access to the Internet as a “disruptor” is under the aspect of proportionality only given if the right owner has previously made reasonable efforts to act against those contributors which – as the website owner – themselves committed the infringement or – as the host provider – contributed to that infringement through its services. Only if actions against those infringers and contributors fail or if they have no prospect of success which would lead to a lack of protection, then actions against the access provider as “disruptor” are appropriate. The website owner and the host provider are, by far, closer to the infringement than the telecommunications company, which only provides access to the Internet.”