FYI: legal status of proxy caches in Germany (was Re: Caching violates copyright?)

From: Andreas Strotmann <>
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 1997 10:17:32 +0200


First a caveat: I'm NOT a lawyer, and this is NOT legal advice, but I DO
quote the official legalese below!

On Aug 12, 17:47, Andreas Strotmann wrote:
> Subject: Re: Caching violates copyright?
> In Germany there's a new law currently going through the legislative
> process that's relevant here.

In fact, it's been in force since August 1st, 1997.

FYI, here's an excerpt from the official English language info on the new
law (

"Provisions governing the responsibility of providers will create legal
certainty. Doubts about the responsibility of providers can now be
settled. The law is based on the following principles:

    * Full responsibility has to be assumed by service providers who
        offer their own content on the Net.

    * Conditional responsibility has to be assumed by
        providers who provide third-party content
        on the Net. These providers can in future be
        held responsible for illegal third-party content
        only under two conditions: the particular content
        must be positively known to them, and it
        must be technically feasible and reasonably to
        be expected of them to block such individual
        content. This reasonableness clause makes it clear
        that the provider will not be required to
        make every conceivable effort to prevent
        utilization of illegal content.

   * No responsibility will be expected of providers
        who merely provide access to the utilization
        of third-party content. Such providers are not
        [to] be treated differently than providers of
        telecommunication services, who do not know the
        content communicated and in fact must
        not know it because of the secrecy of telecommunication.

  The majority of technical and legal experts consider that this
differentiation is apt to clarify the currently open questions in terms of
criminal law and civil liability. The impact of global networking does not
alter in any way the need for national regulation at the present time.
Similar considerations are under way abroad, and the incipient
international debate confirms the course proposed. "

Here's the legal clause that places caching proxy servers into the third
category (note: this is the official English translation!):

"Providers shall not be responsible for any third-party content to which
they only provide access. The automatic and temporary storage of
           third-party content due to user request shall be considered as
providing access."

In other words, in Germany at least, a proxy cache is now by definition
"just a very long telephone line," as a reader of this list suggested --
provided it's
  - automatic
  - temporary
  - on behalf of a user [however, that's my interpretation]

[Sorry for the long-delayed follow-up.]

Best, Andreas

Andreas Strotmann       / ~~~~~~ \________________A.Strotmann@Uni-Koeln.DE
Universitaet zu Koeln  /| University of Cologne   \
Regionales Rechenzentrum| Regional Computer Center \
Robert-Koch-Str. 10    /|    Tel: +49-221-478-5524 |\   Home: -221-4200663
D-50931  Koeln        __|__  FAX: +49-221-478-5590 |__________~~~~~~~~~~~~   
Received on Thu Sep 11 1997 - 01:21:16 MDT

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