Photo - Tronson du Coudray art - 'Victory'
Sometimes the strangest bed-fellows are found in the most unlikeliest of places and in this on-line world, the question was raised in Germany some time ago, if you watched the porn site RedTube.com the legal eagles will track you down and send you a fine of $250 for breach of copyright, as reported in this TheGuardian.com article.
Whether this is ultimately the legal situation or not, ultimately a court will decide as from this report, a multitude of German households have received these letters of copyright breaches and stated fines.
The article exacts a legal case for both (1) the fines, and on the other hand, (2) why copyright has not been breached. This appears to be the critical part as RedTube like all such pornography sites, involves video:
“U+C which specialises in file-sharing cases, argue that viewing clips on streaming sites can constitute a proliferation of copyrighted material since a tiny copy of the file is created in the memory of their computer.”
Philip Oltermann writing from Berlin in this Guardian article, at that time said that were the Bavarian law firm to succeed, it would set a worldwide precedent.
Photo - Tronson du Coudray art – 'The Lounge'
What this might mean
Let's assume TheGuardian.com article has hit on the money (as it were), and everything therefore you streamed (watched) on your home computer from home movies, shared videos, what you read, became copyright protected in this sense of the law. It seems Netflix has got around this as customers are already paying for a service (in some form).
Everyone of us would need to be very careful.
It would bring about a new revolution in what on-line might mean. Here are some of the issues associated with such drama:
First, the prior question will always become, who owns the original copyright?
The second question becomes, if I were to stream this and watch it, whose copyright would I breach (rarely is original source material viewed direct from the production).
The third issue, is how would such a world wide legal drama be policed as every ISP would automatically become in breach of copyright by allowing such illegal material to be passed on.
The fourth, is that this would inevitably broaden to what we read not only what we viewed – consider the number of photographs we view let alone articles.
The fifth relates to the very nature of free speech as the media in essence is not only reporting news, the media Comment on that news, and immediately having to source materials for making informed comment would breach such far reaching copyright law.
Photo - Tronson du Coudray art – 'The Team'
Worse case scenario is that anyone of us would carry with us a huge legal threat any time we switched on our home computer.
As big brother is always watching what we view and read on line (yes, it's all recorded), the on-line situation as we know it today would take a huge u-turn. Could I read with legal safely any article on any news site whether that be secular or Christian let alone watching a news or Christian video.
If anything we watch or read is copyright and by down loading an article to read, in effect my home computer imports that breach of copyright as described above, the home computer would in effect become obsolete. Who could afford to use it knowing it itself houses the copyright problem.
A brave new world
In our litigious world it takes one judge to make a precedent ruling and the world is turned upside down. Then there are years of appeals and legal juggling but the essential ingredient in law has been made and such a ruling will change everything.
Will we be more safe or less safe. There will undoubtedly be much debate.
In a recent article from The Guardian there is debate as to whether Australia should be looking at such issues. Intellectual property specialist Kimberlee Weatherall said that if you wanted to start a search engine in Australia, it would be illegal, because it would inevitably involve copyright law infringement.
The then Attorney General George Brandis says his preference would be for the industry to police itself, rather than have the government impose potentially burdensome regulations and is not persuaded Australia needs additional 'fair use' rules.
My fear is that reading the bible on line, which I do regularly, would breach such a copyright law as envisioned. I recall in the eighties when new legislation on libraries would have seen bibles banned from shelves, until an uproar saw immediate changes bought about.
Photo - Tronson du Coudray art - 'Passion'
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at