This guide is written information purposes only. I do not condone piracy. I encourage you to pay for the media you consume.

Downloading movies in Germany is risky. Pirates in Germany can get big fines: 900€ to 1000€ on average. But if you do it correctly, you can pirate movies without getting in trouble.

How is piracy prosecuted in Germany?

When you torrent movies, your IP address is visible to others. Some law firms monitor torrents of famous movies, and collect the IP addresses of people who download them. If they see your IP address, they can ask your ISP to give them your real address. They can send you an Abmahnung: a formal request to pay them between 500€ and 1500€.

If you don't want to pay, you can hire a lawyer who will get your fee reduced to 100-300€. You must till pay the fine and your lawyer. In any case, it will be expensive for you. It's better if you don't get caught.

Usually, those law firms go for the easy targets. They will not try really hard to catch pirates. This is why you won't get prosecuted for using streaming sites, for example. It's just too much work. It's much easier to catch people who use torrents.

What if my guests pirate movies?

Before October 2017, if anyone pirated movies on your internet connection, you were responsible. This is why there were so few public Wi-Fi hotspots in Germany.

The so called Mitstörerhaftung (co-perpetrator liability) was repealed1, 2. The updated law is fairly simple: you are not responsible for copyright violations on your network if you did not cause or facilitate them1.

Is streaming movies safe in Germany?

You can stream movies from legal sources like Netflix, iTunes, Google Play Movies and Amazon Prime Video. This is legal, and you have nothing to worry about.

You can stream movies from websites like Mega.nz, Putlocker, 123movies, WeTransfer or Google Drive. This is illegal, but you will not get caught. Catching people who use those illegal streaming websites is very difficult. Movie studios and copyright lawyers focus on easier targets.

The only exception is Popcorn Time. It uses BitTorrent to stream the movies. You can easily get caught. Using Popcorn Time in Germany is as risky as torrenting.

Is torrenting safe in Germany?

No, unless you take precautions.

The BitTorrent protocol splits a file into smaller chunks. When you torrent a movie, you download these chunks until you have the whole file on your computer. You also share the chunks you already have with other downloaders. This means that when you torrent a movie, you also share it with others.

While you do this, your IP address is visible to everyone, including the copyright lawyers. This is why it's so easy to catch people who torrent movies.

Unless you take precautions.

If you add someone else between you and the torrent, their IP address will be visible, but not yours.show among the uploaders instead of yours. Copyright lawyers won't be able to trace the downloads back to you. This is what a VPN or a seedbox does.

Private torrent trackers can also increase your privacy. Your IP address will only be visible to people who can use the tracker. You can still be caught if the copyright lawyer gets access to the tracker.

Torrenting movies with a VPN

When you browse the internet or torrent movies with a VPN, the remote server sees the VPN's IP address, not yours. This means that copyright lawyers cannot see your IP address. They can't easily trace illegal downloads back to you. Using a VPN makes torrenting much safer.

VPNs come with extra benefits:

  • They let you see shows and videos that are only available in other countries
  • They let you see websites that are blocked in your country
  • They increase your online privacy by adding a layer of anonymity

However, VPNs are not risk-free. If your VPN connection drops, your torrent client might continue downloading copyrighted materials without it, exposing your IP address to the world. This is why you should set up a VPN killswitch that cuts the internet connection if you are not connected to your VPN.

When choosing a VPN, you must look for a fast provider that allows torrenting and does not log IP addresses. Avoid free VPN services, as they usually sacrifice safety, privacy or performance. This VPN comparison chart can help you pick the right VPN. I use Private Internet Access since a few years. I never had any problems.

Torrenting movies with a seedbox

A seedbox is a torrent client that runs on a remote server. You add torrents through a web interface, and once the download is finished, you save the files to your computer. Torrent trackers only see the seedbox's IP address, so copyright lawyers cannot trace the downloads back to you.

There are a few benefits to seedboxes over VPNs:

  • Seedboxes are mind-boggingly fast. Typical bandwidths range from 100mbps to 10Gbps. Well-seeded torrents finish in an instant.
  • You don't need to install or configure anything on your computer. You can access your finished torrents from all your devices.
  • Many seedbox services include a free VPN.

However, seedboxes often require you to use private torrent trackers, which have stricter membership requirements. Private trackers are usually invite-only, and require its users to maintain a high seeding ratio.

Can I watch pornography in Germany?

Yes. Watching pornography is legal in Germany1. The most popular porn sites are also legal in Germany. Pirating pornographic movies is not legal.

Can I use Netflix and Amazon Prime in Germany?

Yes. Using legal streaming websites like Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO, Apple TV, YouTube etc. is completely legal in Germany.

Does my insurance protect me?

No. If you get caught, your legal insurance will not help you1, 2, 3. Your liability insurance also won't help you.

Disclaimer

This article was not written to promote sharing copyrighted material without permission, but to inform its readers about the current laws and the methods used by German pirates. All About Berlin does not condone piracy. Be safe and responsible.

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