Warning letters for Illegal streaming is a big challenge for those in need

Illegal streaming is a serious issue for film industry players like Warner Brothers. It is estimated that in 2018, the movie industry lost an estimated £1.4 billion in potential revenue due to illegal streaming activities. This is a huge loss to the industry that the industry is trying to avoid by sending out insane numbers of cease and desist letters. Unfortunately this is being done in a way that the legal pursuit of illegal streaming is ratherrobbing from the poorthan solving the problem. Those who are already financially struggling are the ones who are hit hardest. This article takes a look at how illegal streaming is impacting the poorer members of society, and what can be done to try and address the issue 

Warning letters for Illegal streaming is a big challenge for those in need

Background Knowledge: What is Illegal Streaming in Germany and why is it Illegal?  


In Germany, the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted content, including films, TV shows, music, and more, over the internet through streaming or downloading is considered illegal. The German government has implemented laws and regulations to combat this activity, and it is illegal to share or stream copyrighted material without permission from the owner. However, it is not a crime to simply watch a movie – the illegal aspect is the act of sharing it with others, which can be compared to giving away DVDs from a store without the owner’s permission and depriving them of revenue. Peer-to-peer networks often only allow “watching” while simultaneously sharing the same content with others, and in many cases, the viewer may be unaware that they are also sharing the material as these networks are designed to keep users unaware. 


The Costs of Illegal Streaming for those who get caught with cease and desist letters 


The entertainment industry incurs significant losses due to illegal streaming, and these costs are often passed on to the consumer. Those caught illegally streaming copyrighted content may face legal consequences and fines, such as cease and desist letters issued by law firms like Frommer Legal in Germany. These letters come with a high cost, often around 950 EUR, with 700 EUR going towards compensation for the copyright owner and 250 EUR as the lawyer’s fee. These fines can be financially damaging, especially for those who are already struggling. It is worth noting that these letters can be sent out automatically in large quantities, making it a lucrative business for the lawyers. 

The Impact on the Poor  


The legal consequences of illegal streaming disproportionately affect lower income individuals, who are often hit hardest by the associated fines. Those caught illegally streaming copyrighted content may face fines of several hundred euros, which can be a significant financial burden for those who are already struggling financially. Examples of individuals who may be more likely to be caught include 

  •  those who are new to Germany and unaware of the laws and enforcement methods,  
  • foreigners who have streamed in other countries where regulations are different,  
  • those who cannot afford legitimate streaming services,  
  • refugees,  
  • individuals visiting relatives in Germany,  
  • international students,  
  • and those waiting for visas or work permission.  

All of these groups may be facing financial struggles and a 950 EUR fine can be a significant setback. 


Seeing the other side: The Impact on Creators  


The legal pursuit of illegal streaming is also having a negative impact on film creators. Creators rely on the revenue generated from their work, and the loss of potential revenue due to illegal streaming makes it more difficult for them. Additionally, creators often have to spend time and money on legal fees in order to protect their work from being illegally streamed. This can be in some cases a financial burden and can reduce the potential revenue that they could generate from their work. But in the case of for instance “Frommer Legal”, the copyright owners are big and quite rich companies like Warner Brothers, so that point does not count here. 


Conclusion: A Change in Attitude is needed 


While it is important to protect the rights of creators and ensure they are fairly compensated for their work, the pursuit of illegal streaming should be fair and just. Those who are struggling financially should not be subject to excessive fines, and creators should not have to bear the cost of legal fees. Instead, those caught engaging in illegal streaming should have the option to pay a reasonable fine or participate in a program that educates them on respecting copyright. However, the current system is perceived as unfair, with many individuals who are caught feeling that a 950 EUR fine is disproportionate to their income and the impact on their lives, even if they understand that their actions were wrong. 

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