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Swiss Gov't: Downloading Movies and Music Will Stay Legal 463

Posted by timothy
from the wish-that-sanity-was-contagious dept.
wasimkadak writes "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."
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Swiss Gov't: Downloading Movies and Music Will Stay Legal

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  • Berne Convention (Score:5, Interesting)

    by colinrichardday (768814) <colin.day.6@hotmail.com> on Saturday December 03, 2011 @01:05AM (#38247496)

    Interesting that one of the more famous copyright conventions is named after a Swiss city.

  • Holy smoke (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 03, 2011 @01:06AM (#38247504)

    A government that makes a common sense. Time to move to Swiss

    Very interesting stats and observation
      However, these people donâ(TM)t spend less money as a result because the budgets they reserve for entertainment are fairly constant. This means that downloading is mostly complementary. "

    My favorite part
    "The overall suggestion the Swiss government communicates to the entertainment industries is that they should adapt to the change in consumer behavior, or die"

  • by RobinEggs (1453925) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @01:20AM (#38247574)
    These are great results, but they apply only to a small number of European countries. The people who are about to say: "See! If only RIAA would back the fuck off they'd make the same profits anyway!" are completely unjustified in using this particular study to support their argument.

    Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, etc. all have more socialism and more general social trust (as I understand it) than most countries. Lots of people don't even lock their doors in Denmark; they leave strollers with children in them outside the store while they grab a gallon of milk. I'm not saying there are no criminals and no extreme downloaders, but in general there's more respect for others' property and more belief that everyone is in things together. It's not surprising that such people still spend a great deal of money on entertainment in addition to some downloading.

    In the United States, however, it's totally different. Individualism and extreme selfishness are far more common. I know tons of people who download in excess of 5 times as much as they buy, and I myself download literally 99% of what I consume.

    I'm not here to say that RIAA and the MPAA are right/wrong, or that they're making/not making enough money even with downloading; those are all separate talks. What I am saying is that a study about the Netherlands (this study is based on data from the Netherlands, which the Swiss consider highly analogous to their own country) doesn't prove a damn thing about intellectual property law or the state of entertainment businesses in the US, so stop drawing stupid parallels before you start.
  • I don't get it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bonch (38532) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @01:21AM (#38247582)

    I don't get this. Why would someone pay for something they already got for free? Are people really still using the argument that piracy is "free advertising?" The article claims that game pirates play more games and music downloaders visit more concerts, but that doesn't mean piracy is contributing to that--it just means that people who are more into games and music than average are therefore more likely to be obtaining them in as many ways as they can, piracy or otherwise. If there wasn't rampant piracy, how many more games would they be purchasing or albums would they be buying?

    I mean, it's not as if a system works where everyone just works for free without any compensation. It's probably just too difficult and expensive for the Swiss government to try to squash piracy, so it's easier to throw up their hands. Plus, this article is posted on TorrentFreak, so it's not exactly an objective analysis.

    I just don't get the mindset that not only thinks they are entitled to something they didn't pay for but also justifies it as some kind of culture movement, or a strike against the RIAA, or whatever. I've never respected that mindset. The only mindset I respect is the one that admits the basic human desire of getting something for free, because they're at least being honest about what exactly is happening. The lengths some people go to try to establish themselves as freedom fighters, setting up a "Pirate Party" or ranting about the evils of copyright (but don't you dare steal copyrighted GPL code!) signifies a level of denial I can't even begin to imagine suffering under.

    I'm posting an anti-piracy position on Slashdot, so I know I'm opening myself up to a possible modbombing of epic proportions, as this site has become extremely pro-piracy in the last 10 years (getting Linux software for free means everything must be free, apparently), but I felt like I should risk the karma and make whatever points needed to be made.

  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mattventura (1408229) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @01:34AM (#38247668) Homepage
    It would depend on who is helped and hurt by those actions. If my company was doing nothing wrong, then the leaker should be fired and sued. However, if the company was killing people or something, then they did the world a favor.
  • Re:Really? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by fsckmnky (2505008) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @01:40AM (#38247694)
    Your company just spent $10 billion dollars developing the next great widget that everyone will want to buy. The information copied allowed manufacturers in {cheap labor country Zuliwabee} to duplicate the plans, and produce the product without having invested the R&D money. All the investors are screwed, thats grandma and grandpas pension funds. The company closes down, and the people who produced the next great widget are all penalized for doing so.

    Is this your idea of utopia ?
  • Re:Really? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 03, 2011 @01:50AM (#38247738)

    If you start punish the wrong people (eg. downloaders) your are a very very bad person that tries to make the world even worse.

  • Re:Really? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fsckmnky (2505008) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @01:51AM (#38247744)

    The time they spent to produce the software is a constant, it doesn't change according to the amount of people using the software.

    The time required to produce the product is a constant indeed. But the expense is amortized by the number of people who will benefit from using the software. Copying and using software without paying for it, is similar to shoplifting, in the sense that, by you not paying for the right to use the product you stole, increases the price that people who do pay for the right to use an item. When you steal a candy bar from Walmart, the loss is spread to the customers who pay for their purchases.

    Not really. A software product is already done, the time on it has been spent already whether or not you're using it.

    This is just an excuse on your part. You are receiving the benefit of someone elses labor, without paying for it. It's the same situation if you screw the painter. You receive the benefit of his labor without paying him for it.

    If a company hired you to work for them, and the company received the benefit of your labor, then refused to pay you for it, you would be outraged. But when you want to receive the benefits of other peoples labor without paying for it, you justify it by saying "It's okay because its really easy for me to copy it and receive benefit without payment."

    By your logic, its okay for me to steal your car because I have a screwdriver and I know how to disable alarms and hotwire it. It only took 30 seconds. It was so easy for me to steal it that you don't deserve a car.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 03, 2011 @01:55AM (#38247766)

    You are missing the point.

    Let's say inflation and your salary stay consistent. For 5 years, before you discovered piracy, you always spent $200/year on entertainment. Now you discovered piracy, you increase your entertainment consumption by 5x but increase your entertainment spending to $300/year. Is piracy helping or hurting the entertainment industry?

    On one hand you are not paying the full amount On the other hand, the entertainment industry would only get $200/ year from you without it.

  • Re:Really? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fsckmnky (2505008) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @02:14AM (#38247868)

    No, you're depriving me of a physical object that I don't have accessible to me afterwards. If you however e.g. copy an ebook I have written I will still have the ebook in my possession, too.

    If Software/Music/Movie ABCD v2.0 costs $10 to create, and 10 people pay $1 for it to receive the benefit of it, everything is great, the world is utopia.

    When NancyBoy the pirate enters the picture, and receives the benefit of ABCD without paying for it, he just stole $1, collectively, from the 10 people who paid to receive benefit. If NancyBoy the pirate had paid, the cost to the 11 benefit receivers would be $10/11 or approx $0.91. NancyBoy the pirate has stolen money, and permanently deprived 10 people of property.

    The physical object argument does not matter, and here is why. A car started out as dirt in the ground. Someone had to mine the dirt, extract the iron, make steel, form it into a car, etc. When you buy a car, you are paying for the labor and time of people who molded dirt into a car. The same is true of software, movies, and music. You are paying for the labor and time of people who organized information and molded it into a product.

  • Re:Sanity (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 03, 2011 @03:02AM (#38248064)

    I was just thinking about this today. How fucking great would it be to have royalties coming in on all the COBOL Y2K fixes I made for the next hundred years, or if I shouldn't survive that long, to have them go to my family.

  • Re:Really? (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 03, 2011 @03:27AM (#38248138)

    If looking down is your thing, you pay for that. If looking up is your thing, you pay for that too. Or in either case you can find a (set of) complimentary partners with appropriate needs.

    The money isn't about the sex. It's about avoiding the dance and the drama that goes with finding and keeping complimentary partners. In hetero terms you don't pay the whore to have sex with you: you pay her to go away after.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by geekmux (1040042) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @05:19AM (#38248470)

    You're missing the point, either deliberately or not by a mistake. First of all, with or without pirated content you're still going to pay for food, gas, rent and utilities, so you cannot count that money. Nor can you count the money you wouldn't use on media anyways. Secondly, they mean the money you'd use on media you're likely to spend on media anyways, with or without pirated content available. There are of course always individuals who differ from the general norm, but it does hold true for the general populace.

    Well, not exactly how I interpreted it when they said that monies would still be spent on "entertainment products". If I don't buy 4 movies a month and instead pirate them and replace that expense with buying a new networked hard drive (you know, to stream all my pirated content), I would consider that an expenditure for my "entertainment products". Next month, perhaps I'll upgrade my computer video card to connect to my HDTV. Again, benefiting a specific company, not the victim of piracy. The copyright holder still ends up with squat.

    This is not "missing the point", this is exactly the point. Expenses supplemented by pirated media do not always feed the industry you're hurting with piracy, but apparently someone within the Swiss Government has enough information to prove otherwise. Then again, statistics be carved up 277 different ways to prove damn near anything. While their conclusion is still rather illogical, their decision is the most sane one I've heard yet on piracy in this particular industry.

  • Re:Really? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by turbidostato (878842) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @05:44AM (#38248554)

    "Are you actually trying to claim, that if it takes me 5 years to produce a software product"

    I won't go into what the other poster meant but I do mean that if you are going to spend five years of your effort you'd better have *in advance* a deal to monetize it. You could, for instance, have a talk to all those people you are going to save money for so they start paying you *now*. When your product is done, they'll get it and it's all done. Of course since they can replicate it virtually for free, you won't see a dime from then on. If you want to earn more money you'll have to work for it.

    That's not only what most of the people already do, but it's overall better for society since equates the cost for society to the cost of production without siphoning it more than needed. Perfect Adam Smith capitalism.

  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @06:41AM (#38248704) Homepage

    You act as if you are entitled to make a profit.

    You are not. You are entitled to try to produce a value-proposition with a customer, to negotiate a quid-pro-quo for your labor. It is up to you to come up with an effective business model given global realities, including the reality that, in Switzerland at least, the government is not going to limit the right of people to copy things. The rent-seeking involved is your demand that governments - globally - criminalize the copying of information.

    There was a brief historical window in which information could be treated like a product, because of the difficulty in moving that information from one medium to the next. The medium was the actual product, and it still is. The information can not be, not anymore. You will have to adjust.

    Personally? I think that the public/academic sector is best suited for creating useful software, and providing a living for artists and musicians, as well. With their output then being released into the public domain.

  • Re:Digital Product (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Saturday December 03, 2011 @06:43AM (#38248714) Journal

    Okay, let's thrash out the realm of Digital Products a bit more.

    I also agree that the *costs* don't change, it's the *revenue* side that's the problem.

    Producing digital products, including both music&movies and software, sinks all 100% of the costs up front. Then the producer is stuck trying to recover those costs. Previously, every issued copy was a sale, let's say 10% slippage from favors to friends, etc. So rephrasing the line above, "a digital product comes closer to breaking even and then making a profit the more people use it."

    Now we get to you and your 200. Your mistake above was that we start with you at the beginning of your purchase cycle. You know about my game, you have 200 to spend... and you decide that my game is not worth spending it on to you. However, you still want to play it. (Since it's the "zero" that does strange things to lots of equation, let's say it's "worth a penny" that you dig up off the floor of your car.) You're now essentially walking up to me with the following theoretical conversation:

    "Hi. I want to play your game. How much?"
    "Hi. My price is $20."
    "Hmm. Nah, I don't want to pay that."
    "Okay. Have a nice day."
    "No, I'm going to play it anyway. I copied my friend's CD."
    "So when do I get my $20?"
    "I dunno, I don't care. I'll tell a couple buddies, maybe they will buy a copy. I'm going to go play now, bye."

    I'm pretty sure every downloader doesn't really think they have fully satisfied the requirements for their digital item. It's a gut level reaction to these upfront cost vs duplication cost changing equations. Admit it, there's a bit of "rebellious excitement" going on. Paying is "boring". Harnessing technology to copy it for free is "fun". So since we're still in thought experiment land, I'll send Security over to you and demand that you either pay me my $20 or delete "your" copy of the game.

    Accounting and Game Theory have half solved this puzzle 40 years ago. It's a deliberate psychological refusal to allocate the Sunk Costs to make the digital item. You made your copy, so you purposely stop caring where my revenue comes from. It's not your right to make me "hope that if enough people copy the game to make it go viral, someone eventually will actually pay the real price for it". That *is* the modern emerging strategy, but you shouldn't be forcing me to delay my revenue at your whim.

    This is the rough internal dialogue occurring in the minds of each and every downloader. "I've ripped my copy, I'm done. Your rent is not my problem". The last missing part is for you to provide me with something of *guaranteed* equal value to my purchase price, like a signature on a petition backed by someone who says "for every signature on this petition I'll grant the producer his purchase price in your name as a creative subsidy". By not providing that alternate value, THAT is the unstated implicit lost value caused by digital copying.

    This is essentially the last word on the copyright dilemma at this time. It will occur with every digital item, times every downloader, forever until we get Non-Purchase methods of giving value back to the producers.

  • by Tom (822) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @02:06PM (#38251112) Homepage Journal

    Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, etc. all have more socialism and more general social trust (as I understand it) than most countries. Lots of people don't even lock their doors in Denmark; they leave strollers with children in them outside the store while they grab a gallon of milk. I'm not saying there are no criminals and no extreme downloaders, but in general there's more respect for others' property and more belief that everyone is in things together. It's not surprising that such people still spend a great deal of money on entertainment in addition to some downloading.

    These countries still have the concept of society, as being a group of people, instead of everyone competing with everyone else on everything. What you call "socialism" is simply the government participating in being a good neighbour. When I've contributed to society for several decades with my work, and taxes, etc. then society can help me out a little when I fall on hard times.

    Some countries have a basic distrust. In Germany, for example, the main job of the government agency in charge of handling unemployment seems to be to check for violations of the many rules that unemployed people must follow, and to cut the payments if they find any. In the scandinavian countries, the equivalent agency seems to be mostly in charge of handing out the unemployment benefits. One country assumes that everyone will cheat unless you check on them constantly, the other assumes that most people are honest and only checks if there's indications otherwise.

    Funny thing is that several studies show that if you treat people with trust and honesty, the vast majority will reciprocate. And likewise if you don't.

    doesn't prove a damn thing about intellectual property law or the state of entertainment businesses in the US,

    No, but until there is a study on the same topic done in the US, this is the only data point you have. Simply discarding it is not any more honest or productive than blindly accepting it.

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