We have ways of making you obey
German ISPs have been ordered that they have to hand over to content rights holders the names and address of people connected to an IP address.
While Big Content might be cheering that it can pull anyone out of their home and have them arrested for piracy on the shakiest of evidence, the German Federal Court of Justice did put a significant rider on its ruling. The information can only be given to the rights holder if a judge rules that the file sharer actually infringed on copyright.
The Federal Court is the highest ordinary court in the German judicial system and its decisions can only be overturned by the constitutional court. The court ruled in a case between music distribution company Naidoo Records and Deutsche Telekom. Naidoo Records manages the music portfolio of Xavier Naidoo a popular beat combo artist who penned the famous ditty "Bitte hör nicht auf zu träumen."
The record company noticed that dynamic IP addresses were used to share the song and addresses that constantly change and cannot be tied to one user. Naidoo records demanded to know which Deutsche Telekom customers had used the IP addresses at certain points in time to determine which customer was likely using that IP address to share the song.
The Federal Court annulled those decisions and ruled that it is also permitted to provide name and address of illegal file sharers in cases not on a commercial scale, if it is possible to know who was using an IP address at the time of the infringement.