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Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16
Germany and Abandonware?

Heya. I'm about to live in Germany for the foreseenable future, and something has had me worried for some time. Knowing there are quite a few German members here, I figured I'd ask...

Like much of the rest of Europe, I hear that Germany is a country whose government will literally take actions against citizens that will pirate files in general (i.e. home raids, suing, imprisonment etc.), and that there's heavy network monitoring as a whole in there, and I was wondering how much of their stance would apply to abandonware. So I question my ability to keep using the Garden while there.

Anyone has any inputs? For example, if the government only takes action when a huge company or Hollywood etc. is involved, and that I shouldn't even mind it at all, or if somehow I should be making heavy use of VPNs for any given online activity, or something similar. Thoughts?

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Bolkonskij's picture
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Joined: 2009 Aug 3

well, first a welcome! PN me where you're going to live? I figure you're the one that sent me the invite on facebook? (Warsaw?)

You're right in that the German executive is rather strict about IP piracy in general, especially when compared to Eastern Europe, which I know first hand has a different mentality ... Smile From my experience, they're mostly after movie & music downloads, so a good advice used to be to stay away from those torrents because you never know. However, in case you DO get a cease & desist letter, not all is lost. Never just pay up.

I have never heard of anyone getting a letter here on the Garden, except the people running the Garden and even then it's rather dubious as to whether this is really serious or rather someone having fun faking this stuff. I wouldn't worry to much for Mac Garden downloads.

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

I figure you're the one that sent me the invite on facebook? (Warsaw?)

That is certainly someone else. I don't ever use Facebook, other than for lurking at a Realmz group once every few months.

But thanks for the input! Smile This certainly helps.

Bolkonskij's picture
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Joined: 2009 Aug 3

You're welcome! But let's see what others here have to share. Maybe IIGS_User can write something too, as soon as the prison guards allow him internet access again. (he got 5 years for illegal downloads)

24bit is from Germany too (as far as I remember?), as are others. Let's see what they have to share.

IIGS_User's picture
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Joined: 2009 Apr 8

(he got 5 years for illegal downloads)

This is a joke and not true Wink

But it was me who commented at The Complete Maus the following sentence:

If a German would pronounce that location as "Mauschwitz", he would be jailed for 10 years minimum.

Comments are true about movie/music d/l's, where law firms do their own uploads and then sue the users who download their files. Be quiet and when it comes to official, just deny it and you'll never hear anything more about.

I would prefer not to start an abandonware website located in 'ermany.

Zaiphaic's picture
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Joined: 2010 Apr 10

Hi,

I’m not entirely sure what you’re referring to. Raids in private houses? Heavy network monitoring? I went from modems & BBSses to the wild internet days of the beginning to today, and never have seen that here in Germany. Let me go into details, but first let’s declare "normal" abandonware downloads as what you want to do. The law would be different if you e.g. would sell copyrighted stuff.

a) There is no heavy network monitoring for copyright stuff. There’s the usual 5-eyes-stuff, but these guys don’t really care about copyright.

b) If you share movies or music via Bittorrent or similar, a copyright holder would send you a stop-this-letter with cost note from a lawyer. That, under current (!!) law typically doesn’t have to be paid ("Störerhaftung" is mostly obsolete now)

c) I heard of 2 house raids in my entire IT career. One of the house of someone selling warez in local ads for money, the other a small-to-mid-sized company (~50 employees) that only used warez (Windows Server, Adobe suite, Quark and so on), and when someone got kicked out there, this person angrily approached the general attourney.

d) Why do you trust your VPN provider somewhere in nowhere more than a German internet provider, who is bound to quite restrictive privacy protection laws? (and, again, the internet is not monitored, see above)

As you haven’t decribed what you actually want to do (Sell warez? Offer so called 'abandonware' on some miniscule site for obscure computer systems? Download abandonware and use it?), I can only tell what never lead to trouble so far: Downloading & using abandonware.

Hosting might bring you in conflict with the law, as there is no legal entity in Germany of "Abandonware". Either you have a copy-right (be it that the author offered anyone full usage rights including distrubution, e.g. BSD, GPL, MIT …; or that the company declared "spread it if you want"), or not.

More in the center of potential trouble will be selling/having a business based on abandonware/warez. That one is quickly reached only by having ads on your site, no matter (!) if you don’t make a profit out of it.

Zaiphaic's picture
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Joined: 2010 Apr 10

Regarding the "I want to hide my ass on the web": Then don’t use a VPN, but use TOR.

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

@Zaiphaic

Thank you for your invaluable input, it contains a lot of info I was seeking and wanted to hear about.

As for some of the things you were wondering about or mentioned, allow me to address them one by one:

"Abandonware", as in, commercially-sold software that isn't commercially-sold anymore.

With regards to abandonware, I implied exclusively Garden usage. Quoting myself, "[...] I question my ability to keep using the Garden while there.". The mere thought of selling things someone doesn't own is inconceivable to me and to fellow Garden members.

Naturally, this thread was created precisely because I know, from a black-and-white point-of-view, that abandonware is just commercial software like any other, even if not commercialized anymore. Possibly even when the software author already passed away, which is the case for some of the software.

I believe I haven't said nor implied that I trust VPNs or anything. In fact, I very much don't, except maybe the likes of Peter Sunde's that he used to offer (no idea if he still does), and even then, I'd still be skeptic, and I'd rather just stick to airgaps (for starters, that is -- true privacy doesn't stop there).

I simply mentioned VPNs to potentially get a discussion going, because that is a measure some people employ, regardless of its pros and cons, truths and myths, effectiveness or lack thereof.

I'm very familiar with TOR, but its usage in general could potentially cause more harm than good (much like VPNs), especially when there isn't anything to hide. TOR can sometimes also be very problematic if used for torrenting. A significant amount of abandonware is or has been sourced from torrents.

I do agree TOR would work fine for the Garden, though the question is rather if it is even necessary to get so far as to employ it. In other words, it's less about "I want to hide my ass on the web" and more about "Is it even necessary?".

The point of the thread is to hear from fellow residents, such as yourself, what is or has been the reality of living in Germany and using the Macintosh Garden, up until now, and if taking measures to prevent issues were taken, or if none were necessary. This way I can contrast all those inputs with whatever hearsay I came across (raids, network monitoring), and be better-informed. Smile It's that simple.

m68k's picture
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Joined: 2016 Dec 30

First of all: Breeze easy and inhale regularly. Germany is part of the European Union and as such bound by EU law. There is no such thing as a "German way" when dealing with copyright issues.

Yes German authorities are sticklers for rules, but that cuts both ways. The hurdles for obtaining search warrants are quiet high and even higher for prison sentences.
Simply dabbling in abandonware won't suffice for either one.

What you need to worry about would be *hosting* abandonware on a German server. Not because of the police who couldn't care less - they got bigger worries - but because of *private* law firms.
To unburden the German courts private law firms can send "cease and desist" letters to people they deem to be in violation of the law - and charge you hefty fees for it.
And technically speaking, you'd have to wait 70 years *after* the program authors death, before you'd be in the clear for 100% on this one.

But just downloading or owning abandonware won't cause you trouble, for nobody can claim you caused them any damages this way.

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

@m68k
Again, this too was a very insightful, helpful comment. Thank you!

@everyone
So, three things I have clearly gathered from all the comments are:

- Abandonware is most likely going to be fine as long as you don't host a server in Germany (or anywhere else in EU);

- If anything did happen, no matter how unlikely, it'd almost without doubt be a cease-and-desist letter, with comes with a hefty fee associated with it; (Before this thread, I used to think cease-and-desist letters didn't impose costs, unless if whatever was the cause for the letter to be sent was not addressed after receiving the letter, i.e. request to remove a hosted file and not removing it afterwards.)

- If a cease-and-desist letter comes in such a case, one should never automatically settle / pay up. And if I understood @Zaiphaic correctly, by current law, one does not have any obligation to pay up for the emission of the letter, at least typically? (What would be an untypical case?)

Hearing all this gives me a lot more peace of mind, and a far better idea about my soon-to-be surroundings.

m68k's picture
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Joined: 2016 Dec 30

Most "cease and desist" letters are just blatant nonsense. The problem is that its legal for law firms to send out such nonsense letters (autoprinted, autostamped and automailed) and charge the happless victims hefty fees for it. The procedure is supposed to spare the authorities the burden of going after petty violators of consumer protection and copyright laws on their own.

Theoretically speaking one can simply send a letter of refusal in response and be done with it. That would force said law firm to actually sue you in court - which in most cases they won't do, for that would require some actual work on their part. Wink

But the tricky thing is: If you do not send that letter in time (don't go on vaccation or miss checking your mailbox!) or the law firm claims it never received it, then the law deems this an "acceptance of the facts as stated" on your side. Meaning you are on the hook to pay the full amount, plus penalties.

If you're not dabbling in abandonware for the money - which would be illegal in any case - then you always risk running afoul of one of those shysters if you host a server. That is a risk that reasonable people with a day job usually try to avoid.
And of course there is always the chance that they'll sue you despite sending said letter, just to make a point. The thing is: Even if the law firm looses, you do not get to claim any damages in return.

But the law is clear that *owning* (or even downloading) abandonware is not illegal, only *distributing* software that you do not own is. That is why these law firms get you as a private person, if you use a torrent client or the like for downloading - for that also uploads back to the Net. And then they'll c&d you for that upload part.

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

But the law is clear that *owning* (or even downloading) abandonware is not illegal, only *distributing* software that you do not own is. That is why these law firms get you as a private person, if you use a torrent client or the like for downloading - for that also uploads back to the Net. And then they'll c&d you for that upload part.

Damn, that sounds particularly important to highlight. It's probably unreasonable of me to ask this, but is there a governmental website through which I could check the German/EU laws and find the particular bit that addresses this? Even if it is German only...

m68k's picture
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Joined: 2016 Dec 30

Google & Wiki are our friends:
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abandonware

And a German saying states: "Ohne Kläger keine Richter"
Thus, keep it simple, follow the rules of the Garden and w/o anyone claiming damages the judges in Germany will continue their more important work, of handing out probations to violent first time offenders.

IIGS_User's picture
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Joined: 2009 Apr 8

"No judges without plaintiffs."

m68k's picture
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Joined: 2016 Dec 30

Thx for that. I truly didn't know how to translate that properly. Laughing out loud

IIGS_User's picture
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Joined: 2009 Apr 8

Thx for that. I truly didn't know how to translate that properly.

I asked G**gle Tr*n*l*te first. Wink

capt_chuckl3s's picture
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Joined: 2019 Sep 17

The Browser That Shall Not Be Named. Classic Wink

IIGS_User's picture
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Joined: 2009 Apr 8

No problems browsing MacGarden from Germany so far.

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

Hey guys, how y'all doing? Quick update from my own end: I moved into Germany as soon as February began, found a job and properly established myself here. I'm alive and well.

It feels like 10 years for me, but I stopped regularly coming here for a bit less than 2 months, which I feel is unbelievable. I purposefully distanced myself from everything I liked, including Macs, retro-computing, gaming and the Macintosh Garden itself, so that I would have higher odds at setting my life straight, which proved to be good, as I was hired the MOMENT before the COVID-2019 outbreak caused all companies to essentially shut their doors in hiring people. Whew.

Until I stabilize myself in my new dev job, and improve on my German in due time, I won't be putting much effort into "retro Mac" matters, but oh man, once things are fully sorted out, I'll be coming back at full force. For one thing, I first will have to go back to Brazil at some point to bring with me further luggage, such as my Mac mini G4s and, if possible, my ever-glorious G5 Quad. Hopefully no later than the end of this year, or the year after...

Until then, I will keep reading this whenever I get nostalgic about my Mac fiddlings. (Which is often.)

Stay healthy!

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

I'm happy you're well and getting settled in, Jatoba, thanks for checking in with your peeps! Smile

Moving and changing home and work environments can be stressful, especially with everything happening globally so suddenly, and even more so in Europe! Stay safe and come hang at the Garden whenever you have a little free time.

Bolkonskij's picture
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Joined: 2009 Aug 3

Great to have you back Jatoba! If you happened to move to the Munich area, drop me a line and I'll pay you a rl beer once this whole covid-19 mess is over Wink

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

Sure thing. Wink I live in another state, but I was already planning to go over there, for game conventions, tournaments and meet-ups, so I'll let you know when I'm around. Smile

uxware's picture
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Joined: 2018 Dec 22

For one thing, I first will have to go back to Brazil at some point to bring with me further luggage, such as my Mac mini G4s and, if possible, my ever-glorious G5 Quad. Hopefully no later than the end of this year, or the year after
....

My reply may dissapoint you, but you may find better to sell your old systems in BR that import/transfer to Germany, I am talking from personal experience, moved between 2 EU countries long time ago and was PITA to bring with me some 10+ systems /a mix of 8bits, Amigas and QS macs, not to mention peripherals and stuff like that. I know : this sucks..

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

In-between visits to Brazil to see family & friends, I can take some of them with me without issues, like my Mac mini G4s, game consoles, peripherals and books (got lots of JP books) as the years go by, but things like the G5 Quad and especially CRT TVs and monitors, those are just like you said.

In the case of CRTs, I figure there must be lots of "old junk" shops in Germany that might sell those?

adespoton's picture
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Joined: 2015 Feb 15

It's this sort of thing that moved me to collect only laptops and Minis a few years back; all my big iron is now completely gone, and I have no detached monitors (let alone CRTs) in the house.

There are a number of places in Germany where you can find old electronics; depending on where you are, there's also quite a bit in the Netherlands, Belgium and NW France.

Bolkonskij's picture
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Joined: 2009 Aug 3

Your best bet in Germany is kleinanzeigen.ebay.de - local classifieds. I've got some really cool stuff from there. It's local pick-up and often people are happy if you take old electronics (like CRT monitors) off their hands for next to nothing. (last year found a nice CRT monitor for my Mac LC locally. Ended up trading a handful of rhubarb from my Garden for it). So check it out, enter your PLZ (city index number) and see what comes up locally.

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

That does sound like the best bet. Now I have even more reason to save up for a car. Smile

m68k's picture
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Joined: 2016 Dec 30

Germany has very stringent environmental laws for old/outdated electronic parts. On top of that private garbage collection from roadside pileups are illegal and garage sales are next to unknown in German culture. Those all combine to an almost certain fate for "outdated" computer parts: Crush them, break them, smelt them down and recycle the raw materials.

There are some vintage stores in hidden places, but they are very few in-between. By far your best bet for vintage parts is ebay.de. But beware: Paypal insurance only covers transactions made under registered addresses - and the German postal service refuse to guarentee the well being of a package's content.

AlexanderMac's picture
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Joined: 2019 Apr 30

Games from Tivola.

IIGS_User's picture
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Joined: 2009 Apr 8

...are an excellent choice. But today, they make mobile phone apps.