Dutch Court Says That Copyright Owners Are Better Off When People Are Downloading From Unauthorized Sources

from the say-that-again dept

Here's a bit of a surprise. According to this report, beyond just the FTD ruling we wrote about last week, there was another copyright case decision in the Dutch appeals court of The Hague, which stated that "since downloading from illegal sources for private use was permitted under Dutch law," it's actually to the advantage of copyright owners that such sites exist.

Of course, part of the reasoning for this is that there's a private copying levy, and the court was arguing that unauthorized downloads should be taken into account when calculating that levy. So, this could mean higher subsidies and "you must be a criminal" taxes in the Netherlands. Still, the argument is somewhat striking:
With reference to statements made by the Minister of Justice, the Court argued that the legitimate interest of the right holders is more adequately protected in a regime that allows downloading from illegal sources. In view of the Dutch government's statements, such a levy system better ensures that compensation is due to right holders for the use of their work.
I'm not convinced that's actually true, but it's still quite surprising to hear a court say it like that. I would imagine entertainment industry lobbyists are banging down Dutch doors right now...
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Filed Under: copyright, hague, levies, netherlands, unauthorized sources


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  1. icon
    Paul Hobbs (profile), 24 Nov 2010 @ 5:45pm

    Re: Re: Why can't this idea work?

    Seems to me that there are two separate (although probably related) issues here:

    1. A somewhat philosophical question about who should pay for content and who should be paid. You write a lot about the economics associated with infinite resources, etc, and to the extent that I understand it, I agree with you. Give away the infinite stuff, charge for the scarce stuff. And while there are lots of good examples out there of that working (and I am even trying to apply it in my own business), it doesn't seem to be an approach which has gripped the public's attention. The average "man on the street" would still be of the view that artists should "get paid for what they create", and that the music (or whatever) is the thing which is being paid for.

    2. A logistical question about how do people pay for content and how do the payees get paid (whoever they might be). Perhaps it is naive to think that all the stakeholders could agree on a single payment collection and distribution mechanism, but assuming they did all agree, I don't see why it has to be inefficient or bureaucratic.

    The big reason I like the idea - as a consumer - is that it's a single (monthly) transaction, one-stop-shop solution. It applies to any content, regardless of format; it doesn't place any restrictions on sharing or copying or redistribution. And as a consumer who genuinely wants to see creators get paid for their creations, I feel "good" about it. It also helps those artists who are great at creating (eg: a brilliant songwriter who can't sing or gets stage fright), but shit-house at everything else - marketing, performing, business management, etc.

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