The ruling by the German federal high court of justice in Karlsruhe on protecting wi-fi Internet connections has been welcomed by the music industry.

The Frankfurt-based label 3P, owned by the musician Moses Pelham, sued a WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) subscriber for illegal file-sharing.

As previously reported (Billboard.biz, May 13), the court stated in its decision that those with WLAN connections have to protect the device with a password, to prevent others using it.

The association of the German music industry (BVMI) in Berlin welcomed the decision.

"Finally it is clear that owners of WLANs are responsible for illegal file-sharing via their Internet access and cannot refuse the responsibility by claiming that third parties used the WLAN," said Stefan Michalk, BVMI's managing director, in a statement.

3P lawyer Hermann Büttner, of the law-firm Büttner and Baukelmann in Karlsruhe, added: "WLAN piracy is such a mass-phenomenon and it was important the this huge hole for the illegal use of copyrights is now closed by the courts decision."

"Sommer Unseres Lebens" by Sebastian Hämer on the 3P label was offered to downloaded illegally via the WLAN connection of the defendant. However, he refused to pay the legal fees and damages because he claimed that he was on vacation when the songs were downloaded.

In its ruling, the court pointed out that the defendant has to pay the legal fee for the warning but no damages because he did not violate the copyright law himself. He had left his WLAN connection with the standard protection and did not install a personal password.

The court also stated that the legal fees for warnings cannot be more that €100 ($125).