Source (Dutch language article): http://www.depers.nl/economie/516007/En-nou-is-het-afgelopen.html
Don’t meddle with the right to steal! Downloading – Six nonsensical arguments
By: Jan-Hein Strop
Published: 12th Oct 06:12 CET
Update: 12th Oct 11:15 CET
Prohibit free downloading and web surfing Holland will go and start a people’s revolution. With no valid reason, because what is the difference with theft?
Free downloading is not regarded as theft but as a ‘right’. And one should not meddle with that right, the digital civil rights movement states. They do not have any moral doubts, but feel copyrights are of lesser importance than what they call ‘internet freedom’.
Meanwhile, a stricter regime seems inevitable. The European Parliament recently approved of a report which contains strong recommendations to stop copyright infringement. On top of that a ban on downloading is being readied in The Netherlands, jumpstarted by the caretaker cabinet. The new cabinet will probably make another attempt to introduce the ban.
It’s easy to predict the response of the pro-piracy camp. They’re using various arguments to justify theft:
1. A Golden Oldie: movies and music are too expensive and not legally available.
Taking into account that movies and music are expensive goods in the eye’s of internet users, so what? If a Swiss watch is ‘too expensive’, then that doesn’t give anyone the right to break in at a jeweler, even if he isn’t able to properly secure his store. In the early days, when we wanted to watch Rambo, we rented or bought a video cassette and nobody complained. But because downloading from the internet is ‘free’, our perception of ‘price’ apparently has changed, for it to justify theft. Anybody who feels that something is too expensive, simply should refrain from purchasing it.
Then there are people who are arguing that up- and downloading of copyrighted material is a good development, because the record company and Hollywood executives will have less money to fill their pockets with. They promote the notion of a consumer which rebels against all that wealth. Using a tone of voice that hardly hides the Marxism, these folks seem to be supporting expropriation – internet communism of the 21st century. Just because we can.
The argument that there aren’t any solid legal alternatives available does not make any sense anymore due to online music store iTunes, streaming music service Spotify and other parties. Although Video On Demand has been able to kick off thanks to digital television, the digital distribution of movies and TV shows is not yet on par. But why would that be a reason not to pay for the latest episode of 24? If a manufacturer is selling his products in only three stores (he has the right to do so) then that is no justification for breaking and entering the relevant storage facilities.
2. Limitations to downloading are threatening freedom of speech
That particular freedom is limited by the rights of others. You know, the makers of movies and music. Just have a look at the European Human Rights Act, article 10, section 2. Within Europe, Holland is the exception to the rule as a country where downloading illegal material is legal.
3. A ban on downloading could make criminals out of millions of people
If a ban on downloading is being introduced, it is not certain just how it will be enforced. If it concerns civil or administrative enforcement measures, no one will be labeled a criminal, because no crime has been committed. Furthermore, the Commission Gerkens, which advised the Dutch cabinet last year to introduce a ban on downloading, has called on the government to spare individual internet users. The cabinet agreed to that and stated that it would limit the ban to downloading from an ‘evidently’ illegal source.
4. A ban will not encourage creativity because it will not force the entertainment industry to come up with new business models which spur creativity
This suggests that large scale copyright infringement is encouraging creativity – as far as one can actually measure creativity. Nobody is making clear just why piracy is encouraging creativity. Every artist or musician who wants to reach an audience has all the freedom to offer his work via the internet, even if a ban (on downloading from an illegal source) is in place. It’s the fact that it is impossible to make any money, the result of large scale piracy, which is discouraging artists. Why start a band if one isn’t able to make a proper living?
Still the digital civil rights movement is of the opinion that modern day copyright is not ‘paying attention’ to the interests of internet users. If a ban is introduced, any support for copyright would possibly disappear. Again: so what? Will we cease to buy books and stop going to music concerts or a cinema because we have a conceptual issue with copyright?
And even more so, it’s the world upside down: the support to pay has not been diminished because of a lack of new business models, but first and foremost because of illegal distribution. In this debate ‘support’ should not be the most important topic, but instead the rights of authors which are now being trampled.
5. Modern day copyright is hampering innovation because rights owners are able to stand in the way of new and disruptive technologies
This is misleading. The legal battle against Kazaa and Napster was aimed at the use of technology, not technology itself. The fight against The Pirate Bay and Mininova has not been inspired by the wish to finish off Bittorrent as a distribution system, but instead to combat platforms that make use of Bittorrent while being supportive of copyright infringement.
Whether court cases hamper innovation has not been proven at all. On the contrary, the opposite seems to be true: after the founders of Kazaa had sold their company due to legal pressure, they started the very successful Skype. And when Kazaa and Napster were going down, a genius came up with Bittorrent, which – because of its decentralized nature – is much more difficult to combat. Now that’s innovation.
But even if innovation would be hampered, is that the reason to open up everything? Peer to peer technology such as Kazaa has never been designed for legal distribution. Whether it is called eDonkey, Usenet or Bittorrent, research by TNO shows that more than 90 percent of all available works within those environments are illegal copies.
6. A ban cannot be enforced.
So? Shoplifting can’t be banned too, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enforce a ban. It is absolutely clear that the methods with which one enforces a ban have to be proportionate. There has to be a solid debate about that, because nobody wants internet police to be spying on everybody.