The Heidelberg District Court has fined the operator of several piracy servers for the online game Metin2. The judgment was preceded by an agreement between the parties to the proceedings and the GVU.
In the case against the operator of the popular piracy servers “Cyperia” and “Hardcore Reloaded” a verdict has been passed: The district court of Heidelberg sentenced the main defendant to a fine of 90 daily rates for commercial copyright infringement in amount of 20 euros each. The verdict was preceded by an agreement between the Heidelberg Public Prosecutor’s Office, the accused’s lawyer and the tax office. The GVU also participated in these discussions as a representative of the injured member Gameforge.
The defendant was accused of operating two of the most popular piracy servers (also private servers, or P-servers) for the online role-playing game “Metin2” from 2014 to 2016, on which at times several hundred thousand players were logged in. The perpetrator and his assistants made six-figure profits by selling virtual items and skills within the game (so-called in-game purchases) that allowed users to upgrade their game characters. In addition to various PCs, notebooks and storage media, a total of around 110,000 euros was seized during the search.
Before his conviction, the accused had declared his willingness to cooperate and cooperated intensively with the GVU and the competent authorities. In doing so, he provided valuable information about structures, backers and financing of the illegal P-server scene, which resulted in new investigative approaches. In return, he was offered a relatively lenient sentence, in addition to having to pay a donation of 3,000 euros to the non-profit organization Gaming Aid.
The cooperation paid off, because the information of the accused led directly to a further investigation success: In March 2018, the Berlin operator of another Metin2-P server was searched by the police after the GVU the officials had passed on. The suspect was remanded in custody. He is also said to have made six-figure profits through the P-server he operated, on which up to 2,500 players were active at the same time.
However, the judgment is not really generalizable, because when assessing private servers, many details relating to copyright, related areas of law and the exact facts of the case are important in case of doubt. This begins with the exact structure of the programming of private servers, goes beyond trademark and competition law issues and ends with questions of the territoriality of copyright acts. Here we must examine and subsume this, because the civil judgments are still rare. The decisive factor here is a great deal of experience in international copyright law as well as potentially the necessary process experience. I can offer both and check whether a defence against a possible lawsuit is worthwhile or how activities must be designed in order not to infringe copyright, competition or trademark law.