updated 01:45 pm EST, Sun December 25, 2011
Dutch say media downloads must be cleared
The Dutch parliament late last week passed a motion that will likely keep movie and music downloading legal in the country. Although not binding, the measure discourages a proposed law from State Secretary for Security and Justice Fred Teeven that would have made many common direct downloads illegal. Personal use downloads by themselves would remain legal, the Netherlands governing body said.
The motion would still make users liable for uploading and otherwise sharing bootleg content, as well as downloading it for clearly commercial purposes, such as selling the downloads.
Among the objections are the difficulty of stemming a wide base and of restricting Internet freedoms. About 30 percent of Dutch are believed to download music and video online, making any criminalization difficult to enforce. Block downloading would curb the spread of information and civil liberty that's the key of the Internet, the Dutch parliament said.
Concerns also existed that the criminalization would lead to mass lawsuit campaigns, much like the winding-down campaign in the US. In many cases, the lawsuits have been likened to extortion, as they threaten penalties of up to millions of dollars and count on targets settling for thousands of dollars rather than challenging the legitimacy of the lawsuits.
Teeven is suggesting that a modification of the law might be approved, although any change would likely require explicit claims about pirated material to receive approval. The bill as proposed could raise concerns about even legitimate stores like iTunes as well as cloud services with re-downloads of one's own content.