A LEGO drama: from YouTube dream to copyright nightmare

Published On: 08.April.2024Categories: Legal2 min read
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Christina Schröder writes about legal topics for the Love & Law Blog at Recht 24/7.

A hobby that turned into a financial disaster

Thomas S., a passionate LEGO builder from Cham, Bavaria, experienced the shock of his life when his beloved hobby turned into a financial disaster. With an impressive collection and the dream of sharing his passion with the world, he uploaded 250 videos to YouTube and earned a whole 300 euros a year. But the supposed success story took a drastic turn when Thomas was confronted with a claim for 328,000 euros.

Copyright infringements: An expensive mistake

What had happened? Thomas, who rediscovered his enthusiasm for LEGO during the coronavirus pandemic, made a serious mistake. To capture his son’s joy at a new model train set, he mixed his own footage with scenes from the internet. A classic case of copyright infringement that quickly attracted the attention of the copyright holder. The consequence: a warning letter and a claim for damages that turned his life upside down.

Between debts and feelings of guilt

This financial claim hit Thomas at the worst possible time. He had just taken out a loan to renovate the core of his house and was now faced with a mountain of debt that he couldn’t possibly cope with. The pressure on the family was enormous. Thomas not only had to sell his valuable LEGO collection, but also the centerpiece of his son’s Christmas presents, the model train set. A step that left behind not only financial but also emotional wounds.

A wake-up call for digital creativity

The story of Thomas S. is more than just a tragic individual case. It highlights the risks and uncertainties associated with publishing content in the digital age. Copyright law, often dismissed as a dry subject, can have drastic consequences if it is disregarded. This case clearly shows that ignorance or negligence when dealing with third-party content can be costly.

Lessons from the LEGO debacle

What can we learn from Thomas’ story? Firstly, that the digital world and its laws are complex and should not be underestimated. Anyone planning to share content online should take a thorough look at copyright law. Secondly, that behind every video, every picture and every post are real people with real biographies. Thomas’ case is a dramatic wake-up call that reminds us all to treat the resources and rights of others with care and respect, even if the amount of the payment for a “hobby” Youtuber who produces Lego films with his son is to be viewed critically and is probably exaggerated.

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