In an attempt to reduce widespread piracy in the Netherlands, the government there recently introduced a plan that would make
downloading movies and music unlawful. However, this proposal has now been binned by a motion from the Dutch parliament.
Presently, the Dutch see downloading movies and music for personal use as fair use and not punishable by law. However, the current government is trying to find a solution to the ever-increasing piracy problem and has proposed a new bill to
make it unlawful.
One of the main concerns of the parliament is that a download ban would go against the free and open Internet, as it restrict the free flow of information. The motion further states that enforcing such a ban via monitoring would invade the privacy
of Internet users.
In addition, the parliament is worried that should downloading become unlawful, copyright holders will go after individual downloaders in court. This might result in a similar situation currently seen in countries like the United States and
Germany, where hundreds of thousands of Internet subscribers are being sued by copyright trolls out to make a quick buck.
Instead of a download ban, the parliament suggests that the entertainment industry should focus more on offering authorized alternatives. At the moment, it is practically impossible to download high quality copies of recent movies and TV-shows via
legal channels in the Netherlands.
While the adopted motion is a win for the parties who want to keep downloading for personal use legal, State Secretary for Security and Justice Fred Teeven has already announced that he plans to bring the plan back in an altered form. Whether that
will be able to address the current concerns of parliament is yet to be seen.
Following an investigation into the legality of a 3 strikes-style
anti-filesharing mechanism operated by Irish ISP Eircom, the country's Data Protection Commissioner has now ordered the practice to be brought to a halt on privacy grounds.
But this setback for rightsholders was immediately countered by government promises to swiftly publish an order enabling rightsholders to have file-sharing sites blocked by ISPs.
In February 2009, the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) reached an 11th hour out-of-court settlement with Irish ISP Eircom on the issue of illicit file-sharing. The deal would see Eircom, at the behest of IRMA members EMI, Sony, Universal
and Warner, introduce a 3 strikes system for file sharers. By October 2010 things we already going wrong. Eircom sent out around 300 warning letters to completely innocent subscribers.
This huge error ushered in the involvement of Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) and a wider investigation into the legality of the entire three strikes system. Now, according to a report, that decision is in and for the music industry
it's the worst possible news. The DPC has ordered a complete halt to the practice on privacy grounds.
According to The Irish Times, Minister of State for Enterprise Sean Sherlock will publish an order early 2012 that will allow rightsholders to go to court to prevent the country's ISPs from supplying their subscribers' access to infringing site.
What actually defines an infringing site remains to be seen.
Universal Music Group has suggested it has the power to make YouTube take down any video it wants, even if it doesn't own the content or the copyright, thanks to a secret agreement with Google.
The world's largest record company apparently exercised that power when it ordered the removal of a competitor's star-studded video, as well as a news report about the controversy. The video features a song and endorsements from a dozen
celebrities, including Kim Kardashian, will.i.am, P. Diddy, Kanye West and Chris Brown.
The movie in question is called Megaupload Mega Song , a promotional video created by the Hong Kong-based file-sharing service Mega Upload. Record companies aren't impressed by the service and claim Mega Upload knowingly hosts pirated music
and flouts international copyright laws.
For years, Universal has used the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to file take-down notices, requiring websites to remove copyrighted content owned by Universal. But in this case Universal have no rights to the Megaupload video content.
The song is original and does not belong to Universal.
So Mega Upload sued the record company, alleging it acted outside the bounds of copyright law.
But Universal responded with a brief saying that their agreement with Google to remove YouTube videos is not limited to copyright claims.
For the moment the video is back on YouTube, but the legal action is continuing.
One in three people in Switzerland download unauthorized music, movies and games from the Internet and since last year the
government has been wondering what to do about it. This week their response was published and it was crystal clear. Not only will downloading for personal use stay completely legal, but the copyright holders won't suffer because of it, since
people eventually spend the money saved on entertainment products.
In Switzerland, just as in dozens of other countries, the entertainment industries have been complaining about dramatic losses in revenue due to online piracy. In a response, the Swiss government has been conducting a study into the impact
downloading has on society, and this week their findings were presented.
The overall conclusion of the study is that the current copyright law, under which downloading copyrighted material for personal use is permitted, doesn't have to change.
The government report concludes that even in the current situation where piracy is rampant, the entertainment industries are not necessarily losing money. To reach this conclusion, the researchers extrapolated the findings of a study conducted by
the Dutch government last year, since the countries are considered to be similar in many aspects.
The report states that around a third of Swiss citizens over 15 years old download pirated music, movies and games from the Internet. However, these people don't spend less money as a result because the budgets they reserve for entertainment are
fairly constant. This means that downloading is mostly complementary.
The other side of piracy, based on the Dutch study, is that downloaders are reported to be more frequent visitors to concerts, and game downloaders actually bought more games than those who didn't. And in the music industry, lesser-know bands
profit most from the sampling effect of file-sharing.
The major Belgian ISP Scarlet can't be forced by a national court to block users from illegally sharing music and video files,
the European Union's highest court has said.
EU law precludes the imposition of an injunction by a national court which requires an internet service provider to install a filtering system with a view to preventing the illegal downloading of files, the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg
said in a statement.
The court ruled that the filtering could infringe the rights of customers and their right to protect their own data. It could also mean that legal content was blocked.
Such an injunction could potentially undermine freedom of information since that system might not distinguish adequately between unlawful content and lawful content with the result that its introduction could lead to the blocking of lawful
communications, the court said.
A Belgian court last year sought the EU top tribunal's guidance on whether forcing an ISP to stop illegal file sharing on its network is in line with the 27-nation bloc's rules. Belgian music-copyright group Sabam, started the legal fight over the
use of so-called peer-to-peer software for file sharing.
In Belgium Scarlet is appealing a June 2007 Belgian court order to make it impossible for users to violate copyright laws, saying it would entail breaching customers' privacy rights.
Soon the European Court of Justice will have to decide whether an Internet service provider can be forced by a music
rights group to proactively filter all of its traffic, both inbound and outbound, for copyright infringements. As detailed in a new paper by intellectual property expert Cedric Manara, the notion is fraught with difficulties and the potential for
collateral damage huge.
While most eyes are on the Internet-breaking potential of the proposed PROTECT IP and SOPA legislations in the United States, there is a huge decision pending for the European Court of Justice.
The case involves the Belgian music rights group SABAM and Internet service provider Scarlet. The pair have been locking horns for some time, with the former demanding that the latter install filtering devices on its network
to monitor customer communications and stop them if they attempt to send or receive copyrighted music.
Live Champions League matches now cannot be viewed on Thai satellite or cable TV.
Without prior notice, broadcast rights holders Channels 3 and 7 started blocking the transmission signals of two Champions League matches to satellite and cable TV including TrueVisions.
Channel 3 was scheduled to televise Manchester City v Villarreal match. But it showed an announcement just before the match kicked off saying the broadcast was only for viewers in Thailand and the live game was unavailable on satellite or cable
TV. Later the Otelul Galati v Manchester United game was blocked on Channel 7.
The two matches could still be watched on terrestrial TV with a normal antenna, assuming that viewers were in a good reception area.
The move caused an uproar among fans.
An insider said the Uefa asked Thailand's broadcast rights holders of the Champions League to act after the European football governing body had received complaints from the broadcast rights holders in neighbouring countries such as Burma.
The pub landlady Karen Murphy has won the latest stage of her fight to air Premier League games using a properly paid up
foreign satellite TV service.
Karen Murphy previously had to pay nearly £ 8,000 in fines and costs for using the cheaper Greek Nova TV service in her Portsmouth pub rather than the expensive service provided by the Premier League and
But she took her case to the European Court of Justice who now say that national laws which prohibit the import, sale or use of foreign decoder cards are contrary to the Treaty of Rome and the freedom to provide services across EU borders.
The decision could trigger a major shake-up for the Premier League and its current exclusive agreements with Sky Sports and ESPN.
However, whereas the decision opens up opportunities for individuals to watch overseas broadcasts at home, it remains unclear whether games can be shown in pubs using foreign services, as the ruling also threw up a number of copyright issues.
It seems to be a situation somewhat analogous to playing copyright music at home or at a business premises. CDs can be freely bought and sold from shops across the EU, but businesses still need a licence to play that music in their premises to a
However the judgement be very helfpful to private individuals, especially expats, wanting to subscribe to foreign services.
The ECJ said national legislation, which banned the use of foreign EU TV services, could not be justified either in light of the objective of protecting intellectual property rights or by the objective of encouraging the public to attend
football stadiums .
However the court has ruled that although there is no copyright in the matches themselves, there is copyright in the branding around the football - the Premier League graphics, music and highlights. If those are there, pubs will still need
the League's permission to show its matches.
It's now up to the UK High Court to interpret today's ruling, and that is not likely to happen for several months.