Saturday, 3 December 2011

Hard cheese for content owners in the cantons

Torrentfreak reports that the Swiss Government has decided that downloading music and movies will stay legal. With an estimated one in three of the Swiss population admitting to downloading content without permission, Swiss policy will now be that downloading for personal use WILL be legal since people eventually spend the money saved on entertainment products.

The Swiss government had been conducting the study into the impact downloading has on society, and this week their findings and the overall conclusion reached is that current Swiss copyright law, under which downloading copyrighted material for personal use is permitted, doesn’t have to change.

The Report notes that whilst the photocopier, audio cassette tape and VCR were all excellent and efficient copying devices, the internet has an added ‘bonus’- the world wide web offers near instant and global distribution of copies at the click of a button. The Report, which favours the option of putting technology to good use instead of taking the “repressive” approach says “Every time a new media technology has been made available, it has always been “abused”. This is the price we pay for progress. Winners will be those who are able to use the new technology to their advantages and losers those who missed this development and continue to follow old business models,” the Report notes.

The Report further 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, 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”. Equally the Dutch study showed 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 Report also reviews some of the new digital regimes adopted in other countries, in particular the three-strikes law Hadopi now operating in neighbouring France. The Report points to the expense of such systems and questions whether a three-strikes law would be legal, with access to the internet having been deemed a human right by the UN Human Rights Council. Other measures such as filtering or blocking content and websites are also rejected, because these would impinge of the right to freedom of speech and violate privacy protection laws. The report notes that even if these measures were implemented, there would be several ways to circumvent them. In 2010 the Swiss Federal Supreme Court ruled that ISPs and content owners are not allowed to collect IP-addresses of file-sharers when Logistep AG was prohibited from collecting personal IP addresses of suspected pirates on behalf of music and film groups such as the RIAA and Motion Picture Association, making it impossible for rights holders to gather evidence. The case was brought by the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner

So the message to the content industries is this – adapt to changes in consumer behaviour - or die

Logistep AG : (8th September 2010) cf the decision of the German Hanseatisches Oberlandesgericht (decision 5 W 126/10, 3 November 2010)

No comments: