Monday, December 26, 2011

Netherlands lawmakers deem 'fair use' downloading still legal

The Netherlands is no different than any other country in the world: downloading content is popular, and by that we mean downloading copyrighted content. Unlike most other countries, however, the Dutch see downloading movies and music for personal use as “fair use” and legal. A recently introduced plan that would change that stance has been canned: downloading will remain legal.

With that, the 30 percent of the population that download movies, music, etc. in a manner that in the U.S., for example, would be deemed illegal, can continue to do so. The only caveat is that it must be for personal use only, meaning: don't even think about selling the files or burning them, then selling them.

On Friday, the Dutch Parliament adopted a motion to keep downloading movies and music for personal use legal. The motion noted that there were concerns that a download ban would be anti-Net Neutrality, as well as stating that enforcing such a ban by monitoring usage habits would constitute an invasion of privacy.

The parliament also didn't want to see the same sort of legal tactics enacted in The Netherlands as in the U.S. and Germany where copyright holders have sued individual downloaders in mass numbers.

The Dutch Parliament has suggested that content providers focus on legal alternatives, since currently it is extremely difficult if not almost impossible to download high quality versions of recent movies and television shows in legal ways in the country.

It's true, as well, that a 2009 report commissioned by the government concluded that file-sharing, unlike what most may believe, has an overall positive effect on the Dutch economy. The losses that the entertainment industry receives are offset, the study said, by the positive effects on the rest of the economy.

While a win for file-sharers,, Dutch State Secretary for Security and Justice Fred Teeven has already announced that he plans to bring the plan back, in an altered form. The battle to keep downloading free of restrictions in The Netherlands is far from over.

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