Downloading music is ‘illegal’, says judge

Every Dutch national who downloads protected music, films or software is apparently breaking the law thanks to a new court ruling, the Financieele Dagblad reports on Friday.

The case stems from a row between music carrier producers such as Philips and Sony and the copyright organisation Thuiskopie.
The price of video tapes, CDs and DVDs includes an amount to cover copyright payments to artists – for example, 60 cents for a normal DVD. But the manufacturers think this levy is too high and have taken Thuiskopie, which distributes the cash, to court.
On Thursday, the court ruled in favour of the copyright body. But in a statement, the court also implied that unauthorised downloading for private use is illegal, the paper says. Until now, the authorities have turned a blind eye to downloading for private use.
‘This is a really shocking ruling,’ copyright expert Arnout Green of law firm De Brauw Blackstone tells the paper. ‘Until now the Netherlands has said only making unauthorised material accessible to the public was illegal.’
Lawyer Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm questions how illegal downloading is supposed to be monitored.
‘And if downloading is now illegal, how can you charge a copyright fee?’ he asks. ‘Consumers are compensating artists when they buy an empty disc. But the moment they put music on it, they are breaking the law.’

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