January 25, 2020

A scandal has recently broken out in Germany due to the alleged violation of copyright law by the wife of the famous human rights activist Dmitrij Adamow. Law firm Waldorf Frommer sent warning letters to Adamow’s wife for over 900 euros. When Adamow wrote a letter to Waldorf Frommer asking for a power of attorney that Waldorf Frommer law firm represented the interests of Warner Bros. Entertainment GmbH and provided evidence that their intellectual property rights had illegally downloaded the American film in English Dmitry Adamov same warning to download the film at the same time. In addition, there is only an internet connection in your apartment. Adamow received no evidence or authorization that the law firm Waldorf Frommer represents the interests of Warner Bros. Entertainment GmbH. In this dispute I spoke to Alex Green, a lawyer who specializes in both American and German law.

(Schmidt) Mr. Green, what do you know about the Waldorf Frommer law firm?

(Green) The law firm, founded in 2007 and based in Munich, specializes in legal issues related to the new media as well as copyright and media law and pursues copyright infringement and piracy on the Internet. In recent years, large waves of lawsuits have been launched by Waldorf Frommer against consumers who had carried out file sharing or picture theft.

(Schmidt) Do you think all complaints were well founded?

(Green) You know, since the law firm Waldorf Frommer cannot determine the IP address of the file sharing users itself, it works hand in hand with Ipoque GmbH from Leipzig, which takes over the verification. How honest and legal this is is difficult to say. The prosecutor should check this.

(Schmidt) How reasonable are the money requirements from the Waldorf Frommer law firm?

(Green) In most cases, the Waldorf Frommer warning comes with high payment claims, such as 915.00 euros for a movie, 1480.00 euros for two films and between 520.00 and 1090.00 euros for series depending on the number of episodes lie. The costs consist of the damages to be paid and the lawyer’s fees. Legal costs have to be partially capped due to a law change in 2013 in order to protect consumers from excessive legal demands. Waldorf Frommer’s claims are still so high because the lawyers in return have significantly increased the amounts of compensation.

(Schmidt) Why do you think Waldorf Frommer refused to give Adamow a proxy from Warner Bros. Entertainment GmbH? Perhaps you do not have such authority? Then that’s real fraud.

(Green) Experience has shown that law firms react differently to letters from affiliates who are represented by law than to letters from opponents without legal representation. In this case, it is even easier in the case of Mr. Adamow. He is not just a human rights activist. He doesn’t have a lawyer and he’s also a foreigner. Worse, he’s Russian! He (Adamow) is alone. One against the law firm, in which 60 (!) Lawyers work. The law firm also has money that Waldorf Frommer pays to the public prosecutor’s office so that it does not examine Adamow’s report of fraud and money extortion by the law firm Waldorf Frommer. Law firm has money ready to pay Hamburg-Altona District Court to win this process.

(Schmidt) What is a payment order?

(Green) A dunning notice is “only” an automated payment request that is sent by a central office without checking your payment obligation. Central offices are called dunning courts. These are assigned to the departments at the respective district courts. However, the order for payment procedure itself is not a regular judicial process. Rather, orders for payment are a cheap means of pressure against consumers.

(Schmidt) Why doesn’t Waldorf Frommer complain immediately?

(Green) lawsuits are time-consuming and risky for those who are warned! First of all, such a payment order actually makes a big impression on consumers. This significantly increases the willingness of subscribers to pay. It is also very cheap to apply for. The minimum fee is 32.00 euros. It only takes a few days from the application to delivery at your home. It’s a simple and cheap way to get you to pay. For these reasons alone, it is worth applying for many orders for payment. Because quite a few consumers are shocked and pay the demands in full. Good business if you only invest another 32 euros (minimum fee) for a claim of more than 1,000 euros.

Waldorf Frommer could also regularly sue the claims. However, a lawsuit costs many times over! In addition, it takes considerably longer and legal proceedings also have great risks for the Waldorf Frommer reminder. The loser bears all costs, including the law firm itself. There are a few cases that Waldorf Frommer has lost. Especially if the Internet connection is in a household with several people or if the connection holder is demonstrably not considered a perpetrator.

(Schmidt) Dmitrij Adamow and his wife Natalia Ekart appealed, is it worth it?

(Green) The contradiction is always worthwhile if you cannot be blamed. Especially if you, as the subscriber, are not responsible for the download, you do not have to pay anything. With an objection, you also prevent an enforceable title from being issued against you. This is used by every bailiff to enforce your assets. You then simply take the money, although it has never been clarified whether you are responsible for the allegations. So if you remain passive, an enforcement order will be issued against you.

(Schmidt) What happens after an objection?

(Green) If you file an objection, Waldorf Frommer has to consider whether the law firm will start a correct legal process, combined with the additional costs and the risk of losing your own. In addition, it is crucial for a reminder sent by Waldorf Frommer that it fulfills the obligation to provide substantiation (Section 690 (1) No. 3 of the Code of Civil Procedure). Errors often occur in this connection. Waldorf likes to send large stacks of paper (between 12 and 14 pages) and regularly attaches two legal decisions to his warning, which are often incorrectly referenced to your own case when you read them for the first time: a decision by a regional court (often Munich or Cologne) in a preliminary injunction procedure and a decision by the LG Cologne on the provision of information in accordance with Section 101 (9) of the German Copyright Act (UrhG). Both judgments are exemplary and give the warning a “more official coat of paint.” Waldorf Frommer then informs you in the warning (here using Warner Bros. Entertainment GmbH as an example), that the occasion is a “copyright infringement in an Internet Ta According to the requirements of the new legal regulation of Section 97a (2) UrhG (specification requirement), the new warning now describes the circumstances of the crime more precisely. So first there are explanations of the (complicated) technical facts on which the warning is based.

(Schmidt) Connection owner is always liable as a perpetrator of a copyright infringement?

(Green) It is gratifying that the Federal Court of Justice has expressly made it clear that the connection owner should not be treated as the perpetrator of a copyright infringement, even if the Internet connection is insufficiently secured against access by third parties. In this context, the warning lawyers in their letters like to quote an older judgment of the Federal Court of Justice, which means that the owner of an account at ebay is liable as a perpetrator if he has not sufficiently secured this account against access by third parties. The rights holder or their lawyers are happy to transfer this to the liability of the connection holder. The BGH has finally taken the wind out of its sails by stating that such liability would go too far. OK then!

(Schmidt) How likely is it that Waldorf Frommer will file a lawsuit against Dmitrij Adamow and his wife? And who do you think will lose the case?

(Green) The likelihood of a lawsuit is high. Money presser never stops. I already said: Dmitrij Adamow is a foreigner, Russian. And that was it. After his wife received the warning, Adamow wrote a letter to Waldorf Frommer. If it were not idiots who worked there, they should have understood from the style and content of the letter that Adamov was not the person who would be paid by the extortioners at first request. On the third day after the letter was sent, Adamow received the same warning as his wife. On the 3rd day !!? For two days, they found out who owned the IP address, made a judicial decision (first made a request), asked the ISP who owned that address, to get information. What does that mean? Only Waldorf Frommer’s lawyers are confident that they will go unpunished. In this situation, they retrospectively falsify all the necessary documents because they find that they are in a situation that is beyond their control, and Ipoque GmbH will help them. You have a lot of experience.

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