Usenet Legal or illegal?This is the legal situation on the Internet

Internet users are often unsure about what is allowed on the Internet and what is not. Especially in the area of downloads, users often ask themselves this question. Not even the courts agree on what is allowed and what is not. Especially in the area of Usenet, heated discussions are always coming up. Sometimes even various platforms were closed, because the legal situation could not be clarified clearly.

Just as often it is also legally discussed whether watching only current cinema films, which have only recently expired, is punishable by law. The current status of the legal situation has first of all agreed that the sole free viewing of such films online is not punishable for the users.

Only if a direct download to the home computer takes place, users can no longer invoke the right of private use and are therefore liable to prosecution. This also applies to all other works, such as music, which are not license-free and the user is not the author of the work. In plain language, this means that if music or films are downloaded that do not belong to the user or were created by him, i.e. he is not the author of the work, the user is liable to prosecution and may be prosecuted. The sole viewing or listening to music and films is not punishable under current jurisdiction, as you can also read at

Since it is not always easy to know whether one is in the legal or illegal area, one can quickly fall into the clutches of the warning industry even as an unsuspecting user. Users have already been contacted by lawyers who, for example, had watched films on the closed video platform

  1. Because according to some judges and lawyers, the users and not only the operators of the platform made themselves punishable, because an unauthorized duplication of films took place.
  2. One meant the downloading of the films while streaming.
  3. The films were not downloaded directly to the users’ computers, but only temporarily while the stream was running.

This was already enough for some lawyers to send some users of the platform warnings with sometimes horrendous sums. In most cases, these warnings are followed by so-called injunctions. In order to keep such warnings and injunctive relief away, users should therefore look twice before they receive a letter from a lawyer. Nevertheless, not everything that doesn’t suit the big music and film companies is illegal. Often a warning letter is sent prematurely in the hope that the recipient simply pays for fear. One example of this is the huge wave of warnings that came up just a few years ago. Also users were concerned, who did not move by any means within the illegal range. Therefore it is important always only to examine whether a warning is also justified. In the case of doubt still the way helps to the lawyer of the confidence. Usenet is often compared to bittorent, but which one is better? At there are some interesting facts.

The legal situation is sometimes complex

Especially the topic with the closed platform is a very good example of how complex the legal situation in the online area is. It must also be said that it always depends on the assessment of the lawyers. This applies to lawyers as well as judges. Because what one judge considers to be punishable, another judge can in turn evaluate quite differently. This is sometimes due to the fact that many areas of the online world are still quite new to the legal system and are often in the legal grey area, in which a decision is very difficult from a legal point of view. For this very reason, one is always dependent on the assessment of the respective lawyers, who are responsible for fair jurisdiction.

There are currently no fixed legal regulations, which does not make the whole thing any easier.

Another example of the complexity of the matter is the question of whether it is also punishable to store programmes and films from the media libraries of television stations. The question does not arise by chance. Legally speaking, the films and series in the media libraries are only available for about 14 days. What if you store them now to watch them later? Does this also fall under unauthorized duplication?

Also YouTube and Co. are still in the grey zone. So the legislators still have some catching up to do in order to ensure a clear situation in the online area.

The legal situation for private copies and downloads

In this area, too, the clear legal situation is difficult. If, for example, you have a copy of a purchased music CD on your own computer, this is still legal as long as you have the original. But also here it depends again and again from case to case on how the respective lawyer assesses the situation. Copies may be made in part if they are only used for private purposes and are not passed on. However, you are on the safe side if you also have the original.

With downloads, however, it becomes more difficult again. If it concerns license-free material, like pictures, diagrams, music and films, these may be downloaded by each user problem-free from the net. Even if one pays money for the offered files, one is usually on the safe side, as long as one acquires the file from the licenser.

But also here applies as always, in case of doubt first check the legal situation, or ask a lawyer for advice, before you end up making yourself liable to prosecution.

What is punishable? Downloads in the grey area

Even if it sounds contradictory now, not every download is punishable. There are several ways to download files. Some are legally unobjectionable downloads, others are in a grey area and you should better keep your hands off the latter if you don’t want to get mail from your lawyer soon. Also a flawless alternative is to be pointed out here, with which one does not have to worry about legal or illegal. Below a few of the most common variants and how to do it from a legal point of view.

Sharehoster & Filesharing – illegal ?

With this variant one acts actually almost always illegally. Filesharing could be an interesting possibility in the download area. Filesharing is the sharing of digital files over the Internet. There are two different ways of doing this. Either the files concerned can be downloaded from an available server, or however the data are downloaded directly from the computer of another user.

Also with the Filesharing usually a special software is used, which makes it possible at all possible that the files are available free of charge for the Download. Besides a whole network stands also with the Filesharing behind it, which works usually also on Sharehoster basis.

But just with such offers there is also ambiguity about whether one moves in the legal or illegal area. However, the majority assumes that one is liable to prosecution when using sharehosters and file sharing. Because here data are offered by users for users, with which in most cases the copyright is hurt, thus for example films or music is offered, which are not license-free. Since it can come here fast to punishable actions, one should consider therefore rather twice whether one would like to use the Filesharing.

There is also the possibility to legally download files here, but this offer is difficult to find. Dropbox would be such a legal possibility, since the portal is very anxious to prevent abuse.

Streamripping and Converting – the Legal Grey Zone

The situation is becoming more difficult here, as the boundaries between illegal and legal are becoming blurred. In streamripping, audio and video files are recorded. So-called converter programs are used for this purpose. This variant is particularly popular in the music sector. The best known example of streamripping is the YouTube portal. Here especially much audio is recorded from the music videos. This procedure can be both legal and illegal. The decisive factor is which content is recorded. In order to be sure whether the recording is legal or not, you should know the following.

  • If the original stream is already a legally controversial material, the recording, whether in audio or video form, is usually also illegal.
  • If, however, content is recorded that can be legally listened to or seen everywhere, one acts legally. Because then it is nothing else, than one would record songs from the radio on cassette, or record television films on cassette.
  • In addition, private copies in this area continue to be legally permissible as long as the user does not circumvent or even crack copy protection.
  • This regulation also applies to the conversion of  YouTube videos, for example, as long as they are not offered for download or duplicated on the Internet. The personal, i.e. private use, is therefore legally harmless. and Co.