Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
America Online

AOL Liable For User Content In Germany? 132

Sjsop writes, "CANOE reports that a German state court has ruled that America Online (AOL Germany, at any rate) is liable for the content of its servers, even where it has no control over that content. (The story is here.) Hit Box Software sued because AOL-G users were trading some of its copyrighted music files and won the case, even though AOL shut down the forums where the trading occurred as soon as they found out about it. This sounds like Bad News to me, especially if (as is likely to happen) it's applied to smaller ISP as well as AOL." I read a great comment the other day: What next, suing Home Depot for selling the lead pipe that killed Professor Plumb?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

AOL Liable For User Content In Germany?

Comments Filter:
  • I haven't seen it posted here, so I try to put some things into perspective:

    AOL is not an ISP, AOL is an Online Service. An ISP just routes packets or stores stuff for a limited time (like newsgroups or proxy-servers). Well, they also store Webpages for their customers - and the customer is liable for unlawful content.

    Now to AOL: AOL is a bit more than a packet shifter, AOL is a "Content Provider". They might for example offer a forum related to popular music. Now this forum (and its content) is a Value Added Service for AOL Users - no one outside from AOL can use this forum. And all those forums have one thing in common: They are (somehow) moderated by AOL or by people AOL "hires" to moderate.

    And here lies the conflict with german law. All these forums are handled by an editorial staff paid by AOL. So AOL is responsible for all the stuff which is written/posted/whatever in these forums. AOL does know what is in these forums as soon as content is posted there.

    Any normal ISP doesn't know about the content of the webpages it hosts, or the newsgroups it carries. When they get to know about content whih breaches the law, they have to delete it also. But they are not required to check on this content by themselves - there's no edotorial staff there.

    So please: Before you condemn german law as being stupid (yeah, it is), please don't mix Online Services with ISPs.

    If it had been an ISPs customer, who had these files on his webpages, he would have been the one being sued. On knowing the content of this webpage, the ISP would be required to shut it down, but they wouldn't have been liable for this content.

    By the way, the text window on the posting page is way too small ;-)

    Share and Enjoy,

    Ralph

  • Of course they'll sue home depot for selling the pipe that killed professor plum. They'll also sue the manufacturer for being negligent in producing the lead pipe that killed him, and the vehicle maker that made the vehicle that transported the pipe to Mr Body's house, and construction company that laid the roads that the vehicle drove on to get to his house.

    Of course, at some time they'll have to sue some ancient cultures for inventing the smelting methods that are used to produce the the metals that are used. . .ad nausem. . .you get the idea.

    Why so cynical? cuz some people have already started suing gun manufacturers cuz some other moron used a gun to kill some other moron.

    ** Martin

  • Oh please! we've all seen Ghostbusters! We ALL know how dangerous marshmallows of any type can be!

    ** Martin
  • What next, suing Home Depot for selling the lead pipe that killed Professor Plumb?

    If the lawyers can get away with it and win big money...

    Yes

  • Doesn't AOL have some fine print somewhere in their contract with a user that they are not allowed to have forbidden content on their site, through their connection to AOL and in their forums? And they state that they police this.
    If this is true then AOL probably would be liable in some respect because they stated that they would police it.
    A small ISP on the otherhand, may say that they are not responsible for any content in their users site or forums and that they don't police it.
  • You are not moderated here for how well you frame your argument, nor for your persuasiveness, nor for any evidence that you might bring to support your argument.

    Funny, those are all criteria I use when I'm moderating. And I've used almost all my points for the past month bumping posts up.

    If you do not toe the party line, you are moderated down. This is, in fact, a form of censorship because many folks do not read Slashdot at a -1 threshold.

    Don't thank Taco & Hemos or the moderators -- you can thank "[insert Slashdot editor here] sucks" and "Hot Grits" and "Natalie Portman" and "F1rZ7 p05t d0odZ" for my lack of enthusiasm for -1 posts and the recent raising of the default browsing level to 1.

    (Although I do have "re-parent highly scored replies" turned on, so I frequently find myself dropping to -1 to find out what spawned a rather intersting reply. It'd be a lot easier if I could click on "Parent" and get the parent no matter _what_ it's scored...)

    So, beware and be warned, karma whore that you are, you will be moderated down for not speaking the gospel according to Slashdot. You will be censored. You will be silenced. It is a fact of posting on Slashdot.

    Look, if the moderation system is so bad here, why do you stay? That's what I don't get.

    Jay (=
  • Worldwide patent offices SERVE "plans and recipies on the internet" showing "Weapons of mass destruction" that "The children" and "Terrorists" can "download with a click".
    More laws! More censorware! More suits!

    Every bomb/fuse/mine/laser/maser/drug/radar/herf/sdi/nuk e/subliminal/gas/ultrasonic/tempest/deto nator/timer/poison/propaganda/sci-fi/sexual pleasure invention they are paranoid about, is IN there.

    They knowingly provide this 'dangerous' content: i.e. the "description".
    They even check and provide "certificates" of content!

    I guess you'd be blamed for linking (or even listing!) a naughty number in Germany too...
    ...or even a typo...
  • If you are a common carrier, you should be immune to lawsuits if you act properly when informed of a violation of the law. Lawsuits should be directed at those that broke the law - your users in this case. Of course, there's no reason that the courts can't subpoena your logs and so forth in an effort to find the user. And if you're hindering prosecution, then you'll probably end up in contempt of court.

    It is illegal to house illegal content once you are informed that you are doing so, which is really the issue here. Common carriers are permitted to not know exactly what they are housing until someone informs them, whereas non-common-carriers (like a newspaper publisher) can't deny knowledge of what they publish and don't get that protection.

    As far as I'm concerned, some things probably are going to be illegal content (at least for the forseeable future). The real problem with this case is that common carriers are no longer safe from prosecution even when they followed the letter of the law. This is going to have a major negative effect on the Internet if the ruling stands, because there will effectively infinite legal responsibility for ISPs that allow users to set up web pages, chat rooms, etc. Result: a lot less of the interactivity that's made the Internet great (OK, a lot less "pictures of my dog" AOL web pages too, but you have to take the bad with the good :)

  • But when he KNOWS about the illegal stuff, he MUST block the access, when IT'S TECHNICAL & FINANCIAL affordable !

    I don't think so. Make that:
    But when he KNOWS about illegal stuff on his own servers he MUST block the access, when IT'S TECHNICAL & FINANCIAL affordable !

    The last part "when .... affordable" serves to exclude things like usenet and proxies.
  • No,
    it's just the other way around, a provider is a service provider. Therefore he falls under the TDG (Teledienstegesetz) (see above). If he used the RPS, he would get a content provider. Therefore he would suddenly be liabel for _every_ illegal content to be found on the internet and were pressed to "block on demand" if someone informs him about nazi documents/kiddy porn whatever.

    A funny thing to kill the RPS would be to get a domain, find someone to hack in and distribute mp3z (without the owners knowledge) and then - suddenly - exchange the mp3z with a new high profile e-commerce site. Wait a couple of weeks with a site blocked in whole germany and then sue the RPS providers for $$$$ damages.

    But back to the TDG, you can read it up at http://www.fitug.de/ulf/politik/iukdg.html#art1, read 5 and see that you are wrong.
  • Misinformed? No. Just not nearly as closed-minded as you are.

  • Your notion is flawed.

    The purpose of a tool is not inherent in its design (although a particular design may lend itself more towards a subset of purposes) - the purpose of a tool is determined by the user. If, in the absence of a hammer, I decide to use a large granite rock to bang in a nail, for the moment the purpose of that rock is as a make-shift hammer. If I need a battering ram, and the only thing I can find is a large tree that has fallen over, then the purpose of that fallen tree is as a battering ram. The purpose of an object shifts from use to use, and as a result cannot be said to have any one particular use.

    In the United States, we arm our police officers with guns. If guns are such a travesty, why do we issue our police guns? Can't we simply hand them batons or tasers and go our separate ways? No, because the criminals have guns as well. So the guns we give our policemen become a defense. They become a deterrent to some types of crimes, and they become a defense against others.

    Further, in all the rush for gun control, taking guns off the street, and banning guns altogether, I have yet to hear a single person say that once guns are abolished in American society that we should disarm our police officers as well. Why? Guns, for police officers, provide that deterrent/defense.

    Where is the outcry? After all, if guns are designed to kill, shouldn't the police be going on massive shooting rampages? They carry guns everday - shouldn't we be hearing daily about a policeman simply snapping and gunning down a half-dozen people in a McDonalds? No, and the reason why is that we consider policemen to be responsible users of weapons. They have taken the training, they practice safe handling procedures, don't keep their guns near children, and so on.

    Responsible gun owners do all of the above. They know how to fire a handgun because they have taken the training. They have an inherent notion of what constitutes safe handling procedures, and the responsible owners take great pains to secure their guns from their children - and to teach their children that guns are not a plaything. As long as I can remember, my father had guns in the house. I know that he had several different handguns and several different varieties of rifles. Yet he was a responsible gun owner, taught me right from wrong, and taught me that guns weren't play toys - and, as a result, I never even considered picking up a gun, no matter how bad my life was or how much somebody else irritated me.

    So what we have here is a conflicting nature of guns: on the one hand, we sanction our police officers to carry guns because they have a positive purpose - deterrent against crime, and the ability of an officer to defend himself against a violent criminal. On the other hand, we have your implied argument, that the only things guns are good for are killing.

    I take it, then, that you believe the police officers have the right to kill whenever and whoever they want, and that you don't have any problems with that.

  • Based on what I said, you reply changes nothing. A gun was designed for efficient killing, a pipe was designed for effcient transfer of water.

    Ah, but you're still wrong.

    The design of a gun achieves one function: to accelerate a lump of metal to a high speed in a very small period of time.

    The design of a pipe achieves one function: allowing any object smaller than the diameter of the pipe to go in one end and come out at one or more other ends.

    Neither one is inherently designed for killing. Period.

  • That's what AOL testified that they did - when somebody presented them with a complaint, they acted upon it.

    The court decision seems to say that that isn't good enough - you have to be proactive and shut the stuff down *before* it starts. And, frankly, that's unfeasible at best and utterly impossible at worst.

  • The problem is, even if you're right in saying that the gun was originally invented for killing, it has evolved beyond that point. There are many, many other uses for guns nowadays beyond sheer killing, and even much of the killing that *is* done with guns is discriminatory.

    So what you're doing is flogging a dead horse. Realistically, I can justify owning a gun under the terms of personal protection, for the exact same reason police officers are given weapons: because there are criminals out there who do not understand anything but a loaded weapon. Criminals own weapons, and it has been demonstrated repeatedly in American society that virtually all criminals don't obey the laws regarding weapon ownership. Gun control does control guns, but it basically controls guns only for those people who abide by the laws - the same people who are LEAST likely to be the aggressors in a gun-related incident.

    As a result, while you've made life difficult for a small number of criminals who purchase guns, by and large you have not made an impact in the overall ownership of firearms by the criminal populace. What you HAVE done is denied the ordinary, intelligent, well-trained citizen of their best defense against the well-armed criminal population. "Rounding up guns," as you said in another post, doesn't do anything but deny the general public of a legitimate, efficient method of self-defense.

    Of course, kids like Klebold and Harris, or that sixth-grader in Michigan, don't have such qualms. They'll obtain firearms illegally because of adults who don't give a damn about your "silly little gun laws", or they'll find alternate ways of doing the harm they want to (Klebold and Harris built bombs from instructions off the Internet). The type of strict, harsh gun control you propose is a mental placebo - it makes you feel good, it makes you think that you're doing something to solve the problem, but when it comes right down to it you've solved nothing, because the criminals will continue to buy, sell, and use firearms against the now defenseless populace.

    It's legislative and political masturbation. Instead of solving the actual problem, you're simply throwing a tarp over it, wiping your hands clean, and saying to yourself, "Now the problem no longer exists."
  • It was Hemos, in the Library with the lead pipe.

    Dude, you had better watch out. Hemos is gonna sue Andover for libel on Slashdot...
    -BW
  • Glad to see U.S. style justice is spreading throughout the world.. blame/sue whoever has the most money, or is an easy target, and throw all rationalization out the window.

    (sarcasm mode now off)

  • The German Music Industry is already planing a filter system called "Rights Protection System" (ironic isn't it?), which could block illegal content. They plan to attach this system to the routers of all ISPs.
  • If all Content-providers can be sued for content on their servers, they will be forced to remove everything that looks suspicious.

    Ans by the way, what about Napster and Gnutella, the Napster legal defense strategy wouldn't work in Germany.
  • Now maybe our European friends will get off their high horse and not be so quick to criticize Americans for all the stupid crap that goes on in the U.S.

    We've all got stupid laws to work on getting repealed, and stupid politicians that need to be voted out of office. It's time to go to work and fix the stuff, instead of pointing to others and laughing at how stupid their countries are.
  • There is this weird perception that I meet all the time: if something bad happens to you, you deserve compensation.

    I hope and pray that's it's only in America where this attitude is prevalent. Getting monetary compensation of mental anguish, give me a fsckin' break. I guess that is the result when a society places money as the ultimate achievement. Sad, really, sad..

    --
  • AOL is in control of what exists on its servers. It has the power to remove material at any time. If it wants to remove material it can, and if it refuses to do so after it has been informed that the material is illegal, it ought to expect some consequences.

    Are you reading the same article as the rest of us? AOL has no control over the content of its servers when it doesn't know what that content is. You say yourself you "like the idea of retaining some privacy." You can't have that if AOL has to check to make sure that your data does not include copyrighted material. The way the article is worded, Hit Box sued AOL when it found out that copyrighted material was being transferred, not when AOL would not make a good faith effort to get that content off their servers.

    Unless this article completely misrepresents the ruling, there is no common carrier protection in Germany.

  • It did shut down the forum after it learned that music was being illegally traded there.
  • And there is something inherently wrong with killing? Let's get real here. The standard behavior in nature is to kill for defense or food. Not make treaties or just to let a stronger animal do as it will. Why should it be otherwise in human culture?

    But rather than get moralistic and such, do you know that many roofer's use what is called a "nailgun" to drive nails. Guess what they use as the motive force: modified .22 shells. They don't have easy access to electricity and air compressors, so they use a literal gun to drive the nails. There are other uses of delivering a large amount of kinetic energy beyond just killing things.
  • > I'm not sure the idea of common carrier status translates to German. In the US it is at least
    > hoped that ISPs are common carriers. I don't believe it has been tried in court, yet. Please tell
    > me if it has.

    In the US, ISPs are protected from such abuses by one of our all favorite laws: the Digital Milenium Copyright Act. Oh, paradoxes of destiny!

  • LOL! I stand corrected.
  • It's a good thing people like you are around to think of these things. I completely missed that aspect. But you're right of course.

    [Actually, I was trying so hard not to laugh loudly enough to be heard beyond the server room that I nearly burst a vein.]

    [Ah, and there's proof that using Slashdot should require a waiting period!]
  • So every ISP has to go through everyone's home directories and be absolutely sure that there is nothing illegal or objectionable? So my local ISP that has 3000 customers and 1 sysadmin needs to start doing this hourly? That's rediculous.

    I can't believe that the powers that be expect this out of Internet providers. Keeping objectionable material of the net is literally impossible.

    Case in point, CPHack, I can still get it, you can still get it. Once it's there it's there.

    If things like this continue there will probably NEVER be free (speech) internet access again. Your ISP will have to log EVERY little action you do, every URL that you click, every email that you receive or send.

    So yes while AOL can check to see what is on their servers, that is a very daunting task. And completely unreasonable.

  • As long as somebody can be punished for illegal content (which really is another issue) someone must take the responsibility in a legal manner.

    Imagine this: I put up an FTP server where the incomming directory is world readable. I intend this to be my rogue site for illegal content, and when somebody ask me to remove this or that, I simply move it away for a couple of days and move it back.

    If I get sued I say: "I didn't place it there. This server is ment for legal content and I can't check everything. If I am asked to remove stuff I will do it, but it just returns because people keeps uploading it..."

    It all boils down to this: If I house illegal activities and hinder the procecution of the trespassers, then I am responsible. I provide the means to illegal activities. It is the same as owning a warehouse building and not securing it, you may end up being responsible for drug possesion since it is found on your property.

    But... as I see it... it all comes down to this: Isn't the issue here, that we find it stupid to have an illegal content problem? If we, for the sake of argument, assume that some content is wrong (kiddieporn etc.), shouldn't it be illegal to house it? I mean it is the content policies we don't like, eh?
  • In general, people with a good case, don't lose.

    Can I come and join you under the rock? must be nice there.

    People with good causes but no money/lobbying power/or just a bit incompetent, loose all the time.

    To (mis)quote Terry Pratchett: 'It's not just the cream that floats to the top'.

    Methinks you are a karmawhore sir.



    EZ
    -'Press Ctrl + Alt + Delete to log on..'
  • In addition to Home Depot, don't forget to sue the pipe manufacturer and the company that mined the lead.

    Of course, I doubt you can find a lead pipe at Home Depot....would more likely be galvanized steel.

    But don't think it's too far-fetched. Remember that a number of cities are suing gun manufacturers.....
  • background checks prior to the sale of anything more harmful than mini-marhsmallows

    Don't kid yourself. Mini-marshmallows can be turned into the regular sized marshmallows with a microwave and 50 pounds of sulfide based fertilizer. The regular sized marshmallows can then be turned into the even more deadly jumbo marshmallow. I know what you're saying, if we outlaw marshmallows, only outlaws will have marshmallows; however, studies show that if we flood the criminal world with chocolate and graham crackers, they will consume 87% of their marshmallows. If we then set up routine marshmallow checkpoints on the roads, and marshmallow detectors at the airports, we can expect to get 99% of the marshmallows off of the streets by 2018.
  • This is ridiculous. What a bunch of simps! No wonder we beat their ass in WWII.
  • Quoth the article:
    An attorney for Hit Box, Stefan Ventroni, hailed the ruling as an important step toward giving musicians better protection against unauthorized use of their performances on the Internet.
    You think the artists are gonna complain that people like their music? No, it's the record labels that are complaining. More Big Brother propaganda.

    Dave Blau

  • People don't kill people, lead pipes kill people.

    Perhaps we should set up waiting limits and monitoring of people who attend plumbing conventions? "Sorry, sir, there is a mandatory background check on all people that want to buy pipe."

    Ok...sorry about wh0ring but my sarcasm took the better of me. >;)

    -Vel
  • Ummm, in most countries judges are required to uphold the law, regardless of their own feelings or opinion, unless they can show legal basis as to why the law should be overturned. It's the legislative body's right and duty to maintain a consistent set of up-to-date legislation.

    In the United States, for instance, judges would not get very far if they, oh, chose to ignore laws and freed defendants unless they could overturn a law on constitutional grounds. Pacifists judges would not be permitted to let defendants cheerfully evade the draft, for instance, were it ever to be revived, and the doctrine of "nullfication" (if memory serves, that's the correct term for the concept that African-American jurors should be lax on African-Americans in order to balance for alleged injustices prior and present) also has no basis in law. The judicial system is not the lawmaker.

    So if German law states that ISPs are liable, and there are no legal grounds for overturning that, and their judges don't get much more latitude than most anywhere else, the fault really lies with the lawmakers and those who elected them.
  • I doubt that would work. Germany with 82 Million people is a far to important market to be ignored.
  • Having the world on the brink of a nuclear War is called stability? I guess that is the US definition of stability.
  • Bongs, like lead pipes, have multiple uses.

    I'm sure he meant a TOBACCO bong, as these are the only ones sold usually. ;)
  • I wonder who else sees similarities between suing the gun and tobacco industries for individuals using their products to do harm, and this? In the case of tobacco, it's an example of people suing others for doing harm to themselves. The tobacco company should certainly be liable for misleading their audiences, but I do not believe that people who smoked for 40 years never noticed it affected their health. The punitive damages that are being issued could potentially destroy a legal industry, one that is supported by the people doing the suing.

    That this latest nonsense took place in Germany seems to be a matter of geography, since the general mood of finger pointing seems to be universal, what with Brazil banning certain video games and demands for ratings for content across the spectrum.

    In short, and I don't want to pull out any Libertarian bromides, but it seems that this kind of liability laziness on the part of governments and society at large is ultimately as harmful as the original actions, if not more.
  • Unfortunately, this is not without precedent. I can think of some firearm makers, for example, who have been subjected to law suits for the use made of the items they make...
    The point is that since human behavior is intrinsicly difficult to control lawmakers prefer easier venues of controlling the means by which human behavior is carried out. It is much easier to lock a door then control who goes through it.
    One can only hope that we will be able to persuade lawmakers that stop-gap law-making never addresses the root of the problem.
  • So if the government creates a public utility - let's say a highway, and someone uses that highway to do something illegal, let's use the example of driving drunk and killing people...

    Just who is liable? Using this analogy as an example case, the ruling would be against the government for not properly policing their highways. In other words, they would be pushed to create systems where a driver would have to undergo biometric identification and a sobriety test before entering a freeway ramp.

    No way, you punish the driver and make sure that it's very difficult for him to get his license back.

  • IIRC, the Compuserve trial you mentioned was turned down in the appeals court. BTW the first ruling was also done by a Bavarian court (just like this time). Most people over here in Germany think that Bavarian courts semm to have absolutely no clue about internet technology.

    The Compuserve trial was about access to pr0n newsgroups - the german head executive of Compuserve was held responsible for all the stuff in the newsgroups they offered access to. Since some of these groups contained pictures and stories which are illegal in Germany, he was accused of spreading illegal pornography. As a consequence, Compuserve/AOL totally blocked acces to all newsgroups containing sex related material (even those groups about gay/lesbian rights or abuse recovery).

    BTW the Scientology ban has nothing to do with that. Scientology isn't liked because it isn't considered a religion but a sect using their "pseudo-religion" to gain economic power and secretly working against the Constitution. Groups working against central parts of the constitution are per se illegal in Germany (like the left-wing terrorist group Red Army Fraction and several extremist left and right wing parties. As you surely know, Germany had both a extrem right (the Nazis) and a left wing (in the former GDR) dictatorship, and doesn't want that to happen again in any case.
    That lead to some measurements a lot of US or Canada residents deem extreme themselves, but AFAIK most European countries share Germanys current view because they themselves suffered under the Nazis during WWII and/or a communist dictatorship during the cold war.

  • The German Music Industry is already planing a filter system called "Rights Protection System" (ironic isn't it?), which could block illegal content

    ...which (if it ever is installed) will hopefully be turned down as unconstitutional by the Bundesverfassungsgericht (the German supreme court in constitutional matters). AFAIK current plans for the RPS are to filter every URL for access to MP3s and other media files. For that to work reliable, they would have to already know the location of every illegal MP3 file, which kinda would make the whole system obsolete anyway (they could just inform the provieder of the sites in question and demand to shut it down). If they would block just anything, it would infringe on the rights of people downloading legal MP3s.

    IIRC, some time ago, there was a similar case regarding an illegal left-wing magazine hosted at xs4all.nl. Access to xs4all was blocked at the main German routers, thus blocking everything hosted there. The result was a massive mirroring of the page in question all over the world, rendering the blocking totally useless. In fact, quite a lot of people started actively searching for the documents just because the government didn't want them to read them.
    In the end, the blocking itself was ruled unconstitutional because it infringed on the rights of all the people wanting to access the legal sites hosted at xs4all.

  • In fact, the parties banned are from the extreme left or right. We still have quite a lot of left- or right-wing groups which are sometimes under surveillance by the Verfassungsschutz (a kind of secret service which observes groups whith openly anti-constitutional behaviour), but otherwise legal. E.g. the PDS (Party of Democratic Socialism), the direct successor of the GDR's ruling communist party, is not illegal and has delegates in quite a lot of the German states and the federal parliament. Scientology isn't illegal (yet), either.

    IMO, the "official" dislike for communists comes from the fact that
    a) Germany was divided for 40 years and we had the Iron Curtain just in the middle and
    b) left-wing terrorist activity in Germany during the 70s/80s was the hottest in all Europe.
    After the reunification, this (the dislike) has somewhat lessen. Quite a lot of people now consider the PDS politically acceptable.

    BTW what exactly do you mean with "Seems mass murder is still okay if it's done for the good reason."?

  • Great argument. "You are misinformed." Let me guess... you were captain of the debate team, right?
  • But what does the intention of the designer have to do with anything? Isn't the anti-gun argument about the criminal uses that the gun is put to? What, can't that position stand on its own merit?

    By attacking the imagined intention of a gun, you seem to think that the manufacturer attaches some sort of "psychic aura" to a firearm that can be blamed for the criminal acts committed by it. Is the victim of a deliberate hit-and-run any less dead than the victim of a shooting? If not, then why does the intention of the designer enter into it at all?

    Nuclear fission was researched solely for the purpose of making a destructive device on the scale no man had ever seen. And yet today a large majority of our power is produced by the seed of that first nuclear device. Does this mean those reactors are evil because a nuclear reaction was "designed" to kill?

    If the first automobile had been created to run down children in the street, what difference would that make to us today? Who would give a damn?

    If you can't make your case on the argument that the evils of guns outweigh their benefits, then you simply don't have a case at all.

    • Quit with the lame analagies, please. They do not apply.
    Quit with the stupid argument, please. It doesn't apply.
  • What next, suing Home Depot for selling the lead pipe that killed Professor Plumb?

    Or:

    • Suing Gun companies for selling guns that folks shoot each other with?

    • Suing Tobacco Companies for selling the tobacco that caused medical expenses for tobacco users?

    But you get my point. In each of the three cases, the actual injuries were caused by others, the defendants only provided the means.

    We really need to think more about what we want liability to be.


    /(o\ I'm not a medievalist - I just play one on weekends!

  • Libraries are not generally liable but publishers and distributors are. If someone with no money libels you, the person that gets sued is the one who makes the copies. That's not so disimilar from suing the manufacturers rather than the designer.

    Now, someone hosting a web site is usually considered a publisher. The courts will usually decide how much responsibility they have over content, and will take into account what action they took when they received a complaint.

    I also ask you to consider what happens when such libels are posted anonymously. Is it just that the person libelled has no legal redress against anyone?

    Now the right to free speech is an important one. It's just that in Europe, we don't tend to see things as such absolutes as some folk do in the US. Suppose personal details about you were published on the web? Are you so keen now that the web host has legal immunity?

    I couldn't actually tell you what my ideal solution would be. But I don't think things are anything near as black and white as you believe.

  • Problem; Germany, the UK, and other countries holding ISPs liable for content found on the internet.

    Solution; Pull the content away from these countries, thus taking away the internet from them.

    If a big ISP like AOL were to threaten this and completely pull out of Germany, you can bet they would regret it. Other countries would take notice and fear the same thing happening to them, should they be dumb enough to attack ISPs.
  • All AOL in Germany needs to do is... shut down their German user access... if I were doing this, I'd make the German AOL start page...

    "Sorry, users, your government has decided we can no longer do business in Germany. Contact this phone number (number of state court that made the decision) for further information, the case is docket number #xxxxxxxx .

    Also, you can complain to your local legislator, to get his phone number, enter your postal code and click here.

    If this situation continues, we will stop billing your credit card and refund money for days on which your service couldn't be used due to your government"
    y2k info - http://www.ecis.com/~alizard/y2k.html

  • God damnit! The original post was insightful, it was interesting, and it was relevant. I disagree with it and said so, but it is not a fucking neg one flamebait post. The posts saying not to moderate it down get moderated up while the subject goes down? Thrice cursed fools!

    -=RR=-

  • I agree that the vast majority of people don't deserve breathable air much less freedom, but does that mean we must suffer for their worthlessness? Once you start limiting freedom it's the screw-heads like the religous right that are gonna use it as a lever to take our freedom (of religion, speech, security, etc.) away. Next thing you know troops are quartered in your rumpus room.

    "Finally, did freedom of speech help the indigenous native American population avoid genocide at the hands of the European invaders?"
    Nope, neither did it help the Irish against the English, Basques vs the Spaniards, Nepalese against the Chinese, Zulu against the Boers, the Islamic world against the Horde, the Persian empire against the Islamic world, the Romans vs the Germans, the Mycaeneans against the Dorians, or the Neanderthals against the Cro-Magnons. What's your point?

    -=RR=-

  • You know, other cultures "more mature approach" to freedom of expression may very well explain why american music, films, and culture in general are the most popular in the world. Curtailing freedom is not forcing responsibility on the people, it is denying responsibility. America's method is the one that stresses responsibility, ie you can say anything that you want to but you must face the consequences of your speech, you are responsible for what you say not the government, not AOL, but you and you alone.

    This ruling proves that with the dawning of the internet age, Germany and the rest of the "mature societies" still haven't even woken up to the age of enlightenment. Hell, what do you expect; every fifty years or so europe goes crazy and we get to absorb all their intellectuals (not necessarily a good thing as the international style of architecture proves).

    -=RR=-

  • Do providers fall under common carrier status? AOL has control over the data it carries the same way the post office or the phone company do. They could filter every single tidbit of information, but (a) who says what's objectionable, and (b) there's just too much information to bother with.

    If they're told about specific incidents, that's another issue.

  • then AOLG must change their name to GAOL, becuase that's where they're going.

    (For Americans, gaol is a british word for jail).

  • Sexual intercourse with animals actually is allowed in germany, and all propaganda is illegal, no matter whether nazi or communist.
  • I do not think it will hold up in appeal. First of all, AOL aint no helpless dwarf. Second, it is definately a silly veredict. Germany has decent mechanisms to deal with this kind of situations and no interest whatsoever in really harming any branch of the IT industry. In fact, there is a huge discussion in germany on how to promote the sector.

    And the court lies in Bavaria. This is a very right-winged state. A lot of these guys look like they are secretely envious at the Austrians for Haider. This people hate change and everything that is different. I do not think such a court ruling would have happened somewhere else.

    rmstar

  • I can't believe this.. I used to think "only in the states", but it seems the US mentality of "sue him before he sues me" is unfortunatly rubbing off on the rest of the (?)free(?) world...

    maybe I can sue M$ for pain & suffering caused by installing/repairing windowz on friends pcs...

    --DarthVdr

    "Why can't we all just get a bong?"
    --DV

  • This is the same government that convicted the president of Compuserve Germany for distributing child porn on Usenet.

    Did he make the posts? Nope!

    Did a Compuserve member make the posts? Nope!

    Did the servers reside in Germany? Nope!

    Did the news servers of their own (state run) ISP carry the smae posts? Yep!

    Did CompuServe respond and yank posts within hours of being notified of their existance? Yep!

    But yet they STILL convicted him...

    However... Felix Somm was aquitted on appeal.

  • I think the obvious implication of this type of decision is to discourage ISPs, through threat of liability under copyright (in this case) or libel (think Demon), from allowing individual users to post their own content online. Who stands to benefit from an internet with higher barriers to entry for producing content? Existing media companies (who don't want the competition) and governments (who are already cozy with these established players).

    I fully expect to see more of these cases arise, all over the world; this is the future of the mainstream internet.

    Waxing cynical,
    -Isaac
  • Don't moderate this down. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no "-1, Unpatriotic" moderation. Also contrary to popular opinion, free speech is only one good thing among many, and should not be such a sacred cow. Property rights, for example, are a much stronger defence against government tyranny than the protection of the speech of people with nothing to say. There ought to be discussion on this issue, and that discussion should not be hampered by the refusal of some people to even consider part of the problem.


    Without your free speech rights, your property rights are up for grabs and there's nothing you can say about it. There's a solid reason why the First Amendment is the FIRST amendment.


    -Isaac

  • Ah yes, but here's the deal. Perhaps I misspoke above. What I meant was the First Amendment of the Constitution is meant to prevent religious persecution more than anything else. I know the Puritans were NOT behind it, but you can't tell me that Madison (the primary author of the Bill of Rights) wanted everyone to be forced into practicing the same, state-sanctioned religion. He wanted to avoid situations like the wars of religion in England and France. (NOTE: The previous two sentences are my interpretations of historical facts and are not to be taken as historical facts in themselves. This disclaimer appears for the intelligence-impaired.) Madison is quite a fascinating historical figure.

    The Freedom of Assembly and of the Press are also tacked on because they are vaguely related. Madison also greatly opposed the Alien and Sedition acts under President Adams.

    Don't talk to me about historical misinformation. What you learned in public school in the U.S. is all bullshit and lies anyway. If you want to learn anything, you have to read many different sources sift through the propaganda and figure it out for yourself. That is a task for which the current system of "miseducation" in the US does not prepare its students.
  • Without your free speech rights, your property rights are up for grabs and there's nothing you can say about it. There's a solid reason why the First Amendment is the FIRST amendment.

    Yeah, its because the Puritans and others who came to "The New World" to escape religious persecution felt it was extremely important to keep the government out of the religion business. They saw the trouble that comes from having the Church and State be one with the religious wars in France and England.

    THAT is why the First Amendment is the First Amendment.

    There's a reason for the Second Amendment being the Second Amendment: because force of arms is the only way to guarantee the rights granted under the First Amendment.

    Jeez. I could go on like this all day....

  • How right you are, Streetlawyer! When I saw what had been done to your previous post, it made me wish that I hadn't used all my moderator points yesterday.

    The moderation system on Slashdot is often abused, in much the same way that a legal system was abused in the AOL Germany case at hand. Just because you say something that some Slashbot (I like that phrase) who happens to have moderator points disagrees with, you get moderated down. You are not moderated here for how well you frame your argument, nor for your persuasiveness, nor for any evidence that you might bring to support your argument. If you do not toe the party line, you are moderated down. This is, in fact, a form of censorship because many folks do not read Slashdot at a -1 threshold. So, beware and be warned, karma whore that you are, you will be moderated down for not speaking the gospel according to Slashdot. You will be censored. You will be silenced. It is a fact of posting on Slashdot.
  • I will not write a long rant about clueless press copying each others (wrong) articles and repeating the music industrie's pointless propaganda and about slashdotter thinking they get the real facts of a jurisdiction out of 3 lines in an article.
    Instead I will point out just three small factlets:

    - The company sued because of three midi songs which were created by them and were downloadable in that forum.
    - AOL didn't do anything although they knew of the problem
    - AOL forum != internet.

    Oh, and AOL isn't fighting for free speech here, they're fighting for low costs. It's the for same reason for which they give a f*ck about usenet spam and UCE complaints.
  • The viewpoint you are missing is called compensation.

    More correctly, it's called the "deep pockets" legal theory: don't sue the guilty ones, sue those who can pay you.

    I mean let's face it, they do deserve some compensation.

    They do? Maybe, in the grand scheme of things. But why does the ISP have to pay it? Why not the phone company, or the CD players' manufacturers, or the local supermarket, or somebody else? There is this weird perception that I meet all the time: if something bad happens to you, you deserve compensation. I don't see why it is true, or even how it possibly can be true, but the good people persist: I spilled coffee on myself -- let's sue McDonalds!

    If you are trying to argue there is some justice in this, you have not succeeded.

    Kaa
  • The difference is that AOLG is not directly involved. It's more like suing the city for allowing the person who shot you to walk on the street where you got shot.

    Oh, and not that it's impossible to give up smoking, but when the tobacco companies alter their products to make it harder (while denying that this is what they're doing) I think a smoker has a case against them. Imagine if you bought a piece of software that gradually (without telling you, and the support people deny this is happening) encrypted all your data to make it harder to export into another program, and then started corrupting your data, so at the end using the program wasn't even useful any more, but you still had to use it every day because otherwise your whole system would crash.

  • It was a Bavarian court that found Felix Somm (the then head of Compuserve Germany) guilty of disseminating pornography and handed down a suspended prison sentence. Then as now, the company were held responsible for what users (in another country) had posted on the web.

    That verdict provoked uproar in Germany and did not survive the appeal. It is too early to see if this bit of idiocy is going to go the same way, but the waves it is making are not as visible.

    The previous verdict was considered an embarrassment to Germany in general and Bavaria in particular.
  • German law knows nothing about ISP liability as such (I think), they are stretching a law here to treate AOL as they would a publishing house.

    Then again, AOL *is* a publishing house!
  • Deja Vu all over again.
    Several years ago Bavarian police got after Compuserve because they were making (gasp!) pr0n available from their servers. Compuserve responded by CYA: they couldn't stay in business if they had to censor every packet, so they shut down in Germany rather than get creamed in court.
    Of course, the rest of the German users, as well as all of the other ISPs, decided that this was a Really Bad Idea and very shortly sanity prevailed.
    At this very moment, I'm confident that every single ISP doing business in Germany is letting the Powers That Be know that in light of this decision they have no choice but to cease operations in Germany (or possibly the entire EU).


    Let's see what that kicks off.

  • I never expected a ruling like this outside the United States.

    It requires about three generations for a fundamental social concept (e.g. personal responsibility, freedom of speech) to fully "take". It hasn't been that long yet -- some of the soldiers who imposed a free Western state on one half of Germany are still alive, and some of the computers built when it came to the other half are still in use.
    /.

  • > ... will just require that all purchasers of lead pipes undergo psychological profiling prior to the sale

    Didn't the Germans already do a very efficient job of this back in about 193[89]? At least kids in the US today aren't getting gassed over the results -- yet.
  • I'm sorry to see this ruling, but it doesn't surprise me. Many european countries have government-owned telecommunications, or have had them until very recently. Their courts are used to this being the norm, unlike in the US.

    The real problem with this, or any other simmilar rulings, is they are unenforcable. Even if AOL wanted to monitor traffic this closely, I can't see how they could do it without severely crippling their connectivity.

    I wish the damn music industry would figure out that if they sold music the way people want to buy it, they wouldn't have to use their lawyers so much...

  • Under what circumstances does AOL have no control over the content of its servers?
    When [...self-righteous crap deleted]

    How about, when they are incapable of vetting every one of their customers' web page uploads?

    It has the power to remove material at any time. If it wants to remove material it can

    Hellooo... they did. That they can be sued even after complying with a request to remove material they were not previously aware of is absolutely astonishing.


    --
    This comment was brought to you by And Clover.
  • I never expected a ruling like this outside the United States. You'd think only the Americans would do this.

    You see, in the U.S., if someone leaves a bar drunk, drives away, gets into an accident, and hurts someone, you can sue the bartender (or more accurately, the bar itself) for letting the guy get so drunk in the first place.

    Granted, the whole point is to prevent bartenders from pushing people to buy so much alcohol that they get wasted, but it's another example of spreading the blame to as many people as possible instead of just the ones who are responsible.

  • If I were AOL, I'd simply shut down every server in Germany and issue refunds through the end of the month.

    It's such an easy problem to solve...

  • Quote from the article:

    AOL Germany said it would appeal. It argued that it lacks technical means to monitor the service's huge data flow and that it had closed down the forum where music was illegally swapped after learning of it.

    That is: They acted like any other ISP, removing files and/or accounts when abuse is reported, but not monitor every file themselves.

    How do you suggest any ISP to guarantee that no account will ever be used for illegal activities? They can punish the "pirates" they catch, but not prevent all pirating.

    Would you prefer a lawyer approving of *every* *single* *file* put on the net? That is what it would take to be "in control"

  • But if I tell you that your server contains my copyrighted material, then you are obliged to either remove it, or meet me in court

    Which they did. Read the article!

  • In general, people with a good case, don't lose.

    Maybe not in general, but it happens.

    AOL are not completely clueless, They claim that they took appropriate measures to shut down the page. I just can't believe that such a big player as AOL would open themselves for a lawsuit by not removing illegal material after being informed. If *their* effort (whatever it was) is not enough *no* ISP will be safe.

  • The viewpoint you are missing is called compensation. From the opyright owner's point of view, the music is already out there and can't be taken back. The only thing left is compensation for it. So who do they turn to? The guy with the big money. Why chase down thosands of people with expensive lawsuits and have no money to pay you when you can just chase one guy with lots of money to give when you win? We may not agree with this line of rationalization, but I mean let's face it, they do deserve some compensation. That we can agree to.

    It is just that you and I are not disinterest bystanders. The effect of these actions on us is that the barriers to entry for ISP's are raised. We get less choice of ISP's and less services. But we can't get any representation in this legal process! We have to go aroundabout to lobby for laws to stop this kind of thing. This is more complicated and is hard.

    I am just dreaming here, but maybe if the courts are not just about one-party versus another, but also have third party, public interest kind of representation ... (cut to John Lennon's Imagine)

  • ...*nix users go on about pipes (and how great they are) at every given chance.

  • What next, suing Home Depot for selling the lead pipe that killed Mr. Boddy?

    We all know this is FUD CmdTaco, everyone knows Mr. Green was killed by the lead pipe (in the kicthen if you where wonder), and Mr. Blue was killed with the rope (IIRC in the bathrom).

    And who exactly is Mr. Boddy, you twisted pet name for cowboy neil? Get with the program CmdTaco, if you check altavisa, google or yahoo "people" search, there has never and will be never a Mr. Boddy (there is a Mrs. Booty if you are wondering).

    So please explain to us, the public, the ACs and the "hot grits" trolls, explain to us, on that frightfull night who did you REALLY kill Mr. CmdTaco?!? Admit it The Mr. Boddy murders where nothing more then a cover up played wonderfully by you the CIA! Admit it Mr. CmdTaco for the record What really happened?!?
  • What next, suing Home Depot for selling the lead pipe that killed Mr. Boddy?

    It was Hemos, in the Library with the lead pipe.

    Sorry, I couldn't resist.

    Seriously though. This is messed up. The eLegal system is getting so messed up because the judges don't have a clue about how servers/IPS/Content Providers work. When do we get to the point where we just give up and say "Fuck it"? It isn't worth the legal hassels to be online. I can't put Source Code on my homepage because it's free speach but corporate America doesn't like it. I'm afraid of putting an address book on my webpage because I'm now responsible for anything that goes onto my servers. I can't use one-click shopping or affiliate programs because Jeff Bezos owns those ideas.

    WTF? What ever happened to free speech online? Time to start supporting the EFF [eff.org] more...

    kwsNI

  • It seems to me that most people here don't know the german telco laws, so I'd like to explain some stuff here:

    FAIK:
    There are some contents which are illegal here in Germany (there might be more):
    a) child abuse, sexual acts with animals
    b) copyright violating stuff
    c) racist / nazi propaganda , propaganda against the constitution.
    Copying at least of a) and b) are illegal.
    Note, that watching pictures in a browser counts here as copying !
    For c) at least widespreading like setting up pages with his stuff is illegal. (Might be copying , too.)
    However a provider is NOT liable for information / data provided by 3'rd parties like forgein web pages etc and NOT liable for content published by users. So he is NOT liable when the users upload such data. But when he KNOWS about the illegal stuff, he MUST block the access, when IT'S TECHNICAL & FINANCIAL affordable ! When he doesn't stop this access under these circumstances, then he might be sued.
    So no evilness there.

    The main cause why AOL was hold liable, was the fact that there were moderators controlling the forum for illegal stuff and that music is always protected by copyright (the German Urheberrecht is a little different from US/english copyright).
    See the Financial Times Deutschland http://www.ftd.de/tm/in/FTDP08T9Z6C.html?nv=se
    for details.
    The second part seems a little questionable to me: it might be impossible to provide music without an explicit permission of the author.
  • So every ISP has to go through everyone's home directories and be absolutely sure that there is nothing illegal or objectionable? So my local ISP that has 3000 customers and 1 sysadmin needs to start doing this hourly? That's rediculous.

    Indeed, and that's why nobody requires it. But if I tell you that your server contains my copyrighted material, then you are obliged to either remove it, or meet me in court.

  • (I note that the link is to the main page of canoe.ca, from which it is a bit of a search to locate the article)

    As I said in the post that you scanned to minutely before accusing me of not having read something properly, the judgement almost certainly was that AOL had not made sufficient effort to shut the forum down and to remove existing copyrighted material. Hence its losing the case. This case will have turned on a lot of sophisticated legal argument and very specific facts which cannot be done justice in a short news piece, but the fact that AOL lost is at least prima facie evidence that they were in the wrong. In general, people with a good case, don't lose.
  • Don't moderate this down. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no "-1, Unpatriotic" moderation. Also contrary to popular opinion, free speech is only one good thing among many, and should not be such a sacred cow. Property rights, for example, are a much stronger defence against government tyranny than the protection of the speech of people with nothing to say. There ought to be discussion on this issue, and that discussion should not be hampered by the refusal of some people to even consider part of the problem.

    Ever noticed how the loudest advocates of free speech have never had an original thought in their life? Look at slashdot, for example. A hundred thousand people, all speaking miraculously with the same voice. I've never understood why the slashbots are so worried about "free speech". It's an undisputable fact that no government in history has put people in prison for mindlessly parroting the party line. You've nothing to fear.
  • that America Online (AOL Germany, at any rate) is liable for the content of its servers, even where it has no control over that content.

    Under what circumstances does AOL have no control over the content of its servers?

    When AOL is drunk?

    When AOL is intoxicated by inhalation of $3 crack cocaine?

    When AOL is asleep, and a tree falls on the telephone line, rendering AOL unable to communicate with the outside world?

    When AOL has fallen victim to a bizarre and tragic cheese accident, and is suffering from "locked-in syndrome", so it can only communicate by twitching its nose, and its nose is tired?

    When AOL is looking the other way?

    When invisible monkeys have impersonated AOL to the phone company, and transferred all of AOL's phone lines to their underwater lair?

    AOL is in control of what exists on its servers. It has the power to remove material at any time. If it wants to remove material it can, and if it refuses to do so after it has been informed that the material is illegal, it ought to expect some consequences. AOL's relationship to the material is far, far, more like that of a publisher to a pamphlet than that of a telephone company to a conversation, or for that matter of Home Depot to a piece of lead. The fact that the German courts failed to accept AOL's moves to remove the material is far more likely to indicate that these moves were token and not in good faith (of course, nobody wants to do anything so radical as to rad the transcripts) than anything else.

    I like the idea of a super-free Internet with no responsibility as much as anyone else, but I also like the idea of retaining some privacy, control over my life and protection from slander. The Internet is not so vastly different from other media that we can lift the normal rules of human decency. --streetlawyer, abusing his +2 bonus since last week

  • It seems like such a common-sense thing that you don't hold the provider liable! You're right, and this is also the standpoint of German law. It states that 'providers are only liable for outside content, if they know of this content and if it is possible and reasonable for them to prevent its use' (sorry for the bad translation). If it is the case (as it is presented in the article cited above) that AOL didn't know of the illegal content, this verdict will very likely not survive the appeal. Unfortunately, I don't have the text the judge used to justify this verdict, but another article I have read about this case indicates that he argued that AOL didn't act even though they knew about this piracy incident. This would make his standpoint at least a bit more sensible. The judge could of course simply have misunderstood the facts that were presented, because he didn't really know how everything worked technically. Incompetence of the judges with regard to the internet is unfortunately a relatively big problem in Germany jurisdiction at the moment, which has also caused several other silly verdicts.
  • The viewpoint you are missing is called compensation.

    The music companies surely have a right for compensation, but this should under no circumstances mean that basic principles of jurisdiction can simply be ignored.
    ISPs should not be made liable simply because the content is present on their servers, but only if they can be called guilty. If they immediately shut down this piracy forum after they found out about it, there is no reason, why their actions should be punished with compensation, even though it is harder or even impossible to persecute the people who downloaded the music in this case.

  • by raygundan ( 16760 ) on Thursday April 13, 2000 @03:37AM (#1135964) Homepage
    I am really, really tired of hearing about things like this. It seems like such a common-sense thing that you don't hold the provider liable! After all, libraries still shelve books containing information on explosives and guns-- should we hold them liable for acts of terrorism?
    When lawn darts were decided to be so dangerous they should be taken off of the market, were toy stores sued? Nope. It was the makers of the lawn darts! If you post crap on the web, it should be your behind that gets sued, not your provider's. ESPECIALLY if they torpedoed your site as soon as they knew about it!

    It seems that this is occuring with such frequency that there must be some fundamental viewpoint I'm missing. If the legal systems of various countries are ruling in this fashion, there must be at least a tiny argument for their side that I am missing. If anyone could provide this (so we can ponder and rebuff it) I would be very very grateful. I simply cannot think of any reason that this sort of ruling is morally or commonsensically defensible!!
  • by garver ( 30881 ) on Thursday April 13, 2000 @05:07AM (#1135965)

    I'm not sure the idea of common carrier status translates to German. In the US it is at least hoped that ISPs are common carriers. I don't believe it has been tried in court, yet. Please tell me if it has.

    Interestingly, since AOL pulled the content, they were no longer common carriers. If an ISP monitors or censors their customer's content in any way, they endanger their common carrier status. I worked for an ISP that had a policy to not remove anything, even when asked by customers, for this reason. It was up to the customers to fight it out, bring legal action against eachother, etc. But, you better believe that the ISP helped the authorities in any way they could (assuming proper permits, etc), just like a phone company.

    Even if you are told about an incident, offensive is in the eye of the beholder. Illegal is a different story. In my mind, this company should have gone to the authorities to prosecute those performing the illegal act. After the appropriate permits, warrants, etc. had been presented, AOL would have only been in trouble if it didn't help. Maybe I should start a country...

  • by JoeWalsh ( 32530 ) on Thursday April 13, 2000 @03:46AM (#1135966)
    What next, suing Home Depot for selling the lead pipe that killed Mr. Boddy?

    Naw, it'll never come to that. Home Depot will just require that all purchasers of lead pipes undergo psychological profiling prior to the sale. Eventually, there will be 5-day waiting periods and background checks prior to the sale of anything more harmful than mini-marhsmallows (buying the regular sized ones will require a check, since they're large enough to block someone's wind pipe).

  • by Vlad_the_Inhaler ( 32958 ) on Thursday April 13, 2000 @05:22AM (#1135967) Homepage
    This has nothing to do with AOL being American - that sort of legal racism is one thing that is not involved here.

    The German government will eventually have to come up with a law defining ISP responsibility (as will the British govt); until then, this sort of stupidity can hit anywhere. No laws have been passed yet because the parliaments consist of people who do not have a clue in this area.

    Sounds familiar?
  • by Steve B ( 42864 ) on Thursday April 13, 2000 @05:31AM (#1135968)
    America's freedom of speech is an aberration, most mature societies (including Germany)

    You're holding up the nation that started the century by tearing down the balance-of-power system that had given Europe a century of peace, then followed up with a full-blown episode of national psychosis, as "mature"?

    This is a definition of "mature" with which I am unfamiliar.
    /.

  • by DeadSea ( 69598 ) on Thursday April 13, 2000 @04:45AM (#1135969) Homepage Journal
    Here is your chance to shut AOL down. All you need to do is log onto their servers in Germany. (Anonomously of course), do illegal stuff, and contact people that would be hurt by this and have them sue AOL.

    If AOL (and other ISPs) suddenly withdrew from Germany, what would happen?

    Maybe other countries would see that a law like this isn't such a great idea?

    Now, where to start?

  • by Millennium ( 2451 ) on Thursday April 13, 2000 @04:17AM (#1135970) Homepage
    ...unfortunately, if it goes through, it probably won't be handled very well.

    ISP's cannot control what is on their servers, of course. Data simply moves around too fast for that, and their servers rely on too many external sources.

    AOL, though, is different. The AOL system is totally senf-contained. In short, AOL can control what's on their internal servers (Web servers are another matter). This makes them unique among online providers. And should they be liable for their content? Perhaps. They should certainly be liable for their users, whom they actually can teach such things as Net etiquette but refuse to do so (again, another case where AOL's self-contained system makes this possible).

    The problem with the ruling is, courts aren't quite that smart yet. They won't get that AOL is unique among online providers. They'll think that everyone can control their servers like AOL can. And this is the problem, because that's simply not true.

    So in the end, I'm afraid I've got to favor letting AOL off the hook. Simply because if AOL loses, the precedent will be used where it doesn't apply by people who don't know any better.
  • by ForbiddenDonut ( 162374 ) on Thursday April 13, 2000 @03:46AM (#1135971)
    While we're at it, sue God for giving us bodies, brains, eyes and vocal cords, which can all be misused! Darnit God be more careful next time!

"How do I love thee? My accumulator overflows."

Working...