1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites
A woman at a wooden desk with a cellphone and laptop
Image: Imago/Westend61/G. Fochesato

Top German court clears way for free Wi-Fi

Elizabeth Schumacher
July 26, 2018

Visitors to Germany are often struck by the lack of free Wi-Fi — now the country has cleared one of the last hurdles. The supreme court has upheld a rule shielding companies offering hot spots from copyright prosecution.

https://p.dw.com/p/328ig

Germany's highest criminal court on Thursday upheld a law protecting companies and individuals who provide free Wi-Fi hot spots from prosecution if an unknown user downloads copyrighted content.

Although the regulation has been in place since 2017, many businesses have been wary to open free Wi-Fi hot spots for fear that even if they wouldn't get in trouble under German law, they might still be prosecuted for copyright infringement under European law.

The case at hand actually revolved around a somewhat older incident — a man who was charged for illegally uploading a copyrighted game in 2013 was challenging the fine he was asked to pay.

The IT worker had made several servers running the encrypted communication software Tor available, and one user had downloaded the game Dead Island, published by the German video game firm Deep Silver, a subsidiary of Koch Media.

The airports with the fastest WiFi

In Thursday's ruling, the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) decided that the 2017 German telemedia law was compatible with EU regulations. As such, the case is likely to go to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Brussels for a final decision.

According to the decision, it is within the rights of Wi-Fi providers to shut down access to file sharing services and block certain websites.

Every evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

Skip next section Explore more
Skip next section Related topics

Related topics

Skip next section DW's Top Story

DW's Top Story

Mobilized military reservists are seen during a send-off ceremony at Nakhimov Square in Sevastopol.

Are Russia's plans to reform its army realistic?

Skip next section More stories from DW
Go to homepage