Some countries in Europe, like France, are looking at ways of extending their copyright protection laws to streamed media, in addition to existing laws against unlicensed downloads. Other countries, it seems, are going in quite the other direction, as a recent decision in the Netherlands shows.
According to a report in TorrentFreak, the Dutch Parliament on Friday said that it would not support a new plan introduced by the government’s justice department to make downloading movies and music illegal. This law, if passed, would apply to P2P sites like Pirate Bay, as well as the hundreds of others like it, but not necessarily streaming sites like Megavideo.
This appears to be only a preliminary motion from the Parliament: the original proposal is still making its way through legal channels will probably continue to be debated on both sides, and probably altered along the way.
At the moment, the issue in the Netherlands is hinging on the concept of “fair use.” Those who are opposed to restrictions on downloads believe that the media industry needs to focus instead on ways of delivering licensed content, rather than fighting those routes that are already in existence.
Private usage, they argue, is fair: selling that content on to others is not. In the words of Ernesto at TorrentFreak, the Parliament was concerned that such laws would “restrict the free flow of information, invade the privacy of citizens and invite copyright trolls.”
In countries like Germany and the U.S., private individuals have been subject to legal actions over unlicensed downloads; this is a route that those opposing the bill want to avoid. And given that some 30 percent Dutch people currently download media from the internet — it could indeed result in a legal nightmare if taken to its logical conclusion.
The Netherlands is not the only country in Europe looking at formally liberalizing the approach to illegal downloads: earlier in December the government in Switzerland issued a report that came to the same conclusion: the country currently has no legislation in place against illegal downloading, unlike France (with its three-strikes law) and Germany.