A German woman who doesn’t know how to use a computer has just been handed thousands of euros in fines for illegal file sharing. Any surprise it was her bratty kid who did it?
The German courts have determined the mom is to blame even though she says she expressly forbade her kid from doing any such thing on the computer. They say simply laying down a rule isn’t enough – the lack of follow-through on her part won the record companies their case. Although it’s not much different from most of the file sharing cases that have gone through, with every day people getting mega fines they can ill afford, the issue of how much parental guidance is enough is a tricky one.
TechDirt defends the mom, pondering whether the judge has children for the court’s assertion that mom should have “actively monitored the connection.”
While it’s true we can’t watch our kids every second of every day, even on the Internet – nor should we – the risk of letting loose any of the apron strings is always that we won’t be able to yank it back when your kids falter. Sometimes we do that so when they fall, it provides a valid lesson. And sometimes that lesson isn’t easy to swallow for either parent or child.
But does that make us less liable when something bad does happen? When, say, your eight-year-old dials China because you’ve decided they’re finally old enough to use the phone, doesn’t Verizon have the right to take you to court for failure the pay the bill? It’s perfectly reasonable to expect an eight-year-old is old enough to call granny, old enough to respect your rules not to call anyone other than granny. It’s also perfectly reasonable to expect that once in awhile an eight-year-old will royally screw up – and should be punished by having to pay off this giant bill to China out of his piggy bank.
We can’t roll out the bubbles, but isn’t part of parenting taking responsibility for the fall out on their road to development?
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