Dutch Publishing Organization Says Filesharing Should Be A Criminal Offense

from the bad-idea-of-the-day dept

Even though The Netherlands’ plans for copyright enforcement are quite far reaching, the Dutch Publisher Association, which includes about 90% of Dutch publishers among its members, says it does not go far enough, and is now asking for criminal prosecution of filesharers. The Association also claims that the new policy justifies sanctions against downloaders, such as fines, “if only for the preventive effect.” What stands out, is that the Association also wants equal rules for “paper and digital copies,” which could possibly equate counterfeiting to filesharing. To top things off, the statement also opposes the state secretary’s plans for introducing a fair use policy in The Netherlands.

While much of the response is predictable and needs no further discussion on my part (comments are open, discuss away!), I would like to highlight again the fact that they’re arguing for bringing filesharers to criminal, instead of civil, courts. This, in my opinion, clearly displays the way current copyright law and its developments clash with certain civil rights (and perhaps human rights). This is not the first time such a measure has been suggested and it will not be the last time; the lobbies and the companies they represent are rapidly draining money. Making this a matter of criminal prosecution instead of civil suits would mean that these lawsuits would rapidly decrease in cost for the industry — but puts that cost on the taxpayer. This burdens the overall government and taxpayer, but enables organizations to continue their fight against the internet, third party innovation and the loss of control.

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Comments on “Dutch Publishing Organization Says Filesharing Should Be A Criminal Offense”

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Anonymous Poster says:

If this happens, you can expect Dutch ‘Net users to get incredibly up in arms – especially since, as it has been pointed out on this very blog in the past, practically everyone who surfs the Internet today commits an act of copyright infringement/”piracy” every day, whether they realize it or not.

This would also clog up the court system with hundreds, if not thousands, of petty criminal complaints.

This makes the RIAA look intelligent.

Anonymous Coward says:

Ok, let me guess how’s it going to be:

“It’s so funny to see you frirates (freetard pirates) jiggle and scream every time the knot tightens around your friracy (freetard piracy). It’s been a nice free (Continental) breakfast so far, but that will soon be over (those breakfasts are tiny).”

“Oh, and Mike is your ringleader.”

I hope that captures the essence of TAM well. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s go back to your regularly scheduled online discussion.

Dirk Poot (profile) says:

It gets worse...

Nu.nl reports that the publisher association elaborated that they also want to outlaw sharing of legally downloaded materials with friends. No lending and borrowing of e-books!

This has nothing to do with equal rules for paper and digital, it boils down to theft. They want to make it illegal to lend an e-book to a friend, as one can now freely do with a paper copy.

Google translation: http://is.gd/lrT0I2 (2nd to last paragraph)

Bruce Ediger (profile) says:

I only engage in legal filesharing

The only things I’ve ever downloaded via BitTorrent are Slackware Linux ISO images. That seems to be the preferred method of distribution of Slackware according to Slackware.com itself, near the time of release of a new version.

Why do the Dutch Publishers want to make me into a criminal?

This plan is extremely silly. All it does is make “The Internet” into some kind of a unicast medium, like Tee Vee or Radio. “We publish the Content, you pay for the content”. That’s a load of rubbish.

Eri (profile) says:

I don’t think that merely making file sharing a criminal offence would be very useful in terms of enforcement. You see, the Dutch legal system has one very peculiar feature: the prosecutor’s office has a monopoly on prosecution; it is for the OM to decide how to proceed. It is rather obvious that small “infringements” are very unlikely to warrant prosecution. Having the legislation in place is not quite the same as having the willingness to actually prosecute. And pushing can only get you so far…
An example of a similar situation are soft drugs – yes, it is a criminal offence to buy, sell, possess, produce etc., BUT the OM has a policy not to prosecute in certain cases (small quantities for personal use, coffee shops following set criteria).
When it comes to file-sharing, I would say that “fair use” would probably be a sound reason not to prosecute. Thus having a criminal offence, and actually prosecuting people for sharing files is quite different, and fair use is quite consistent, at least in the Dutch context.

jenningsthecat (profile) says:

I sooooo want to see this trend continue.

This kind of ‘dinosaur thinking’ is going to continue as long as corporations and their lobbying organizations the world over are in charge of governments, and I say ‘let it’!

The result will almost certainly be a strong artistic counterculture in which copying and sharing are explicitly permitted and encouraged by authors and artists. Art which is predicated on entitlement, and which denies the reality of technological and cultural advances, will simply have no audience and no market.

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