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Germany / Federal Court of Justice / I ZR 42/15

Coalition of German Collecting Societies (Zusammenschluss deutscher Verwertungsgesellschaften) v Company which produces, imports, and sells personal computers in Germany

Deciding Body type:
National Court/Tribunal
Deciding Body:
Federal Court of Justice
Decision date:

Key facts of the case: 

The plaintiff, the Coalition of German Collecting Societies (managing copyrights on behalf of authors), sued a German computer company for selling personal computers with a built-in hard drive from 1 May 2005 to 31 December 2005. The plaintiff argued that these computers were technically capable to duplicate copyrighted audio and video files and, thus, fall under the obligation to pay copy machine levies according to copyright legislation. Therefore, the plaintiff took stepwise action, demanding 1) information about the number of computers sold from May to December 2005, 2) the declaration of the defendant’s duty to pay copy machine levies for the sold computers, and 3) the actual payment of remuneration.

The plaintiff’s action was successful at a higher regional court; the defendant applied for revision.

Outcome of the case:

The revision was not successful.

The Federal Court of Justice states that the higher regional court (Oberlandesgericht) had correctly held that the defendant has to remunerate the plaintiff for the possibility created by selling PCs that were technically fit and also meant to copy and reproduce copyrighted audio and audio-visual works according to Section 53 (1) and (2) of the Copyright Act (Urhebergesetz). This follows from Section 54 (1) of the Copyright Act. Additionally, the defendant has to hand over information which is necessary for the plaintiff to calculate the claim against the defendant according to Section 54g (1) of the Copyright Act.