On April 5, 2017, the federal government adopted a bill to amend the German Telemedia Act. The bill provides that internet network access providers cannot be held liable as an infringing party by rightholders whose rights have been violated from the illegal use of the access providers' internet connections.
If a user abuses the internet connection for infringements, claims to compensation for damages as well as claims to injunctive relief against the access provider will be excluded in the future. The associated elimination of indirect infringement liability for internet access providers should therefore definitively get rid of the legal obstacle for operating freely accessible WiFi hotspots.
Rightholders, however, may request that WiFi operators block individual websites in the future, through which a user has disseminated contents that are protected under copyright law. WiFi operators can thus be required to exclude the possibility to access certain websites by reasonable technical means. The bill expressly excludes rightholders’ claims to reimbursement for expenses for the out-of-court enforcement of the blocking.
It remains to be seen whether Parliament will adopt the bill to eliminate indirect infringement liability and to introduce claims to internet blocks still during the current legislative period.