Musings tagged as legal

The German Supreme Court has published a press release (German) which explains the decision in a recent court case about the adblocking software AdBlock Plus. The digital publishing house Axel Springer, in Germany probably most known for its tabloid BILD which likes to publish fake news, sued the adblocking company behind AdBlock Plus, claiming its software is anticompetitive.

Luckily, the court did not see it that way and ruled that providing and using an adblocker is legal. One of those rare and important wins.

On a side note:

The BILD tabloid is a particularly nasty piece of crap made in Germany and its owner Axel Springer has already been sued numerous times for deffamation and the spreading of lies. They particularly like to focus on people that have to defend themselves in court and prejudge them before their case is even close to being ruled on. Even if they win their case, BILD might still keep on printing articles as if they had been found guilty. The most famous case, against the weather presenter Jörg Kachelmann, who was wrongfully accused of rape by his ex-wife (she was convicted herself for false accusations in the end), ended in BILD having to pay (German) 395,000 EUR to Kachelmann in damages. Note to readers from the US: For Germany this is actually quite a lot. We do not have punitive damages in law, only compensatory. Quite often you never get more than a few thousand EUR if you sue for damages. Those 395k are therefore pretty extreme by German court decision standards.

The encrypted messaging service Telegram has been compromised by the Russian legal system. Telegram has lost a court ruling and is now forced to hand over encryption keys. The FSB argued in court that this does not constitute a violation of privacy because they keys themselves are not considered private information and they are only allowed to actually use those keys for snooping purposes if they have a court order.

Yeah… right…

Another reason to use Signal instead. It’s open source and can not be taken to court that way.

Telegram wants to appeal the decision but Russia’s legal system being what it is, I guess that case is already decided.

In an unexpected rush of common sense, the German Bundesgerichtshof (highest civil court in Germany) has dismissed (link in German) the case of an 80 year old woman who wanted to sue her bank for only using the word “Kunde” (customer) in their banking forms. She wanted the bank to print extra forms where “Kunde” would be replaced by “Kundin”, which is the female variant of the word, meaning - of course - “a female customer”.

Now, if you are not into the German language, you might have still noticed that we love our gender articles. Der (male), die (female), das (neutral), and there isn’t even a clear rule how to use them. It is der Baum aka the tree and it is male. Die Sonne is the sun and female. Der Mond is the moon and it is male again. So yeah, pretty confusing already and sometimes not just to non-Germans ;-)

Over the last 2000 years the male form has evolved into a neutral term that is used to describe people in general, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation or whatever if adressing a whole group. For example Dear customers would become Liebe Kunden, and even though Kunden is the male plural of customer, if you use it in this way it just means all customers, in the english sense of the word. Genderless, so to speak. If you don’t do it that way in German, you can go for Liebe Kunden und Kundinnen which basically means Dear male and female customers. This is a lot longer and especially inside of contract speak or legalese it does not always help the already wicked sentence structure. People often have a hard time understanding that crap anyway.

In addition, nowadays the people that think that they are neither male nor female but non-binary, transgender, unicorn, or whatever else tickles their fancy, want in on the action. So if you want to please everyone (and when did that ever go wrong) you can write about half a page for adressing your audience. Of course this also helps a lot if in a contract, written in legalese, the customer is refered to three times per paragraph.

So, for almost two milennia, people have agreed that it is good to pick one of the genders, use it as a general term and stick with it. No disrespect included, just a general term to make our already complicated language a little bit easier. This logic is of course wasted on you if you are a German senior with too much time on your hands and no real problems to care about.

Amazingly, the highest court was hit with the logic bat and agreed that this is a waste of time. The banks can just keep writing Liebe Kunden, no new forms have to be printed, 99.9999% of the populace are happy and don’t give a fuck anyway, case closed. Of course that 80 year old woman already said that she wants to take the case to the european court so we will have to see how this bounces, but for now, a German court has actually made a sensible decision regarding one of those notorious gender questions. I had never thought that I would see this day…. Praise the Flying Spaghetti Monster!

Project Gutenberg, a small non-profit that is dedicated to digitizing and archiving cultural works and providing them as free ebooks, has blocked access from German ip addresses over a court ruling. Seems like the notorious law firm Waldorf Frommer, which is known in Germany for regularly sending out thousands of cease-and-desist letters as their business model, managed to get a ruling in their favour on behalf of their client the S. Fischer Verlag GmbH, in front of a German court.

Apparently Project Gutenberg hosted digitized copies of works of Heinrich Mann (died 1950), Thomas Mann (died 1955), and Alfred Döblin (died 1957). In Germany the copyright for these works is held by the above mentioned company and it only expires after the death of the author plus 70 years. Funny thing is, Project Gutenberg is not based in Germany, they are based in the US. Why aren’t they being sued in the US? Well, because according to US copyright rules the copyright has already expired, so it would be a lost case.

The guys from Project Gutenberg are trying to appeal the ruling but as they are a small group of volunteers, they lack the funds to go all out in defense. So if you are inclined to support a noble cause in it’s defense against the copyright leeches, consider making a donation to them. The page linked at the top has donation instructions if you scroll down all the way.

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