Saturday, June 28, 2008

BP N 1142 Dutch judge forbids downloading

Every Dutchman who downloads protected songs, movies or software from internet, infringes on the law. That is the ruling of a court in The Hague. It is for the first time that a Dutch judge marked unauthorised downloading of copyright protected material for private use as illegal. The ruling goes against the government’s position of tolerating downloading for private use.

The court case concerned the conflict of blank media levies. In the Netherlands manufacturers of blank media carriers have to compensate rightful artists by paying a levy. In this way artists are still paid for the music which is recorded on the media carriers like CD-ROMs and DVDs. The manufacturers thought that the levy was too high and started a court case against the collecting society Homecopy (Thuiskopie), which distributes the money among the claimants.

However it came as a great shock that the judge expressed himself so explicitly about illegal copying. So far in The Netherlands only uploading unauthorised material was illegal. However downloading concerned the recording of a home copy was tolerated. This has been the position of the government also so far. The court ruling now says that downloading is liable to punishment. However how can this position be consistent with the copying levy? The consumer compensates the artists at source, when purchasing a blank media carrier. And at the moment that music is recorded on the blank media carrier, he is again liable to punishment.

The music recording companies are very happy with the ruling. They can now start prosecuting any downloader. And it will give the piracy watchdog Brein more clout in prosecuting downloader. However the execution of the ruling will be a problem, as the anti piricay officials just can not knock on everyone’s door to check who is busy downloading what. So privacy will be an issue. The piracy watchdog might go to the ISPs to worm data of individual trespassers out of them.

The ruling comes at a moment that the government is studying the collecting societies and the blank levy issue. Also the European Commission is making an inventory of the collecting societies and the blank levy issue. In France the minister of Culture piloted a very strict download law through the ministers’ council. In the UK, British ISPs and music rights holders are engaged in serious negotiations, being pressured by legislators, who have threatened to enact their own measures to resolve massive piracy issues if the industries cannot devise their own solutions.

Blog Posting Number: 1142

Tags: piracy, blank media levy

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