Downloading films and music from illegal sources does not fall under Dutch home copying regulations and compensation schemes, the European Court of Justice ruled on Thursday.
This means that downloading from an illegal source not only damages copyright holders but may also encourage the sale and circulation of pirated works, the court said.
The Dutch government had asked the European court to make a preliminary ruling on home copying in the light of the levy on blank dvds, smartphones and tablets the Netherlands has introduced to compensate musicians and film makers for private home copying.
But the court said on Thursday that the home copying regulations can only apply to private copying from legal sources.
Dutch film makers have welcomed the court’s decision and say the financial compensation from the home copy levy did not offset the damage caused by illegal downloading.
The justice ministry said on Thursday all downloading from illegal sources in the Netherlands is now banned.
Everyone who buys a smartphone, tablet or set-top box currently pays a levy of up to €5 to cover the cost of home copying. Computers and laptops are subject to a €5 charge while the price of a CD-rom or dvd includes a three cent levy.