EU outlaws private copies from illegal source; government eager to comply

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towers-cjeu-press-photosThe Court of Justice of the European Union decided yesterday that the Dutch practice of allowing downloads from an illegal source is itself illegal, Tweakers.net writes.

The court followed the hypothesis of advocate general Pedro Cruz Villal√≥n who felt that the Dutch attitude caused “the mass distribution of illegal materials”. A spokesperson for the Dutch government told NRC that this makes downloading from an illegal source “illegal right away”.

The case was a continuation of one we wrote about earlier, in which manufacturers of blank media argued that since many copies came from illegal sources, the levies they had to pay shouldn’t be so high.

Dutch copyright law contains an exemption that says that copies made for private use are not infringing, regardless of whether the author was paid or not. Member of parliament Astrid Oosenbrug (PvdA) was surprised by the speed with which the government announced a ban on downloading: “That is of course not how things are done.” According to her, the government should explore alternatives first, such as raising levies.

Oosenbrug told 24 Oranges: “PvdA is against a ban on downloading. Citizens should be able to freely use the Internet. We also want to protect the makers, but we shouldn’t do that with bans. Instead we should stimulate legal download models such as Netflix, Spotify, Deezer and so on.”

The Pirate Party’s Dirk Poot (not represented in parliament) called for a drastic revision of copyright law and added that “the government’s attitude is made abundantly clear by the fact that it outlaws downloading as of today, but does not eliminate the levies on blank media with similar haste.”

TL/DR: Copyright law was once a matter between authors and publishers. Now it’s just a mess and everybody’s made to suffer except large publishers and lawyers.

(Photo of the court’s towers by Court of Justice of the European Union / G. Fessy, used with permission)

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