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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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  • How neutral (Score:3, Funny)

    by darkitecture (627408) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @12:53AM (#38247466)
    It's a Beige Alert!
  • Sanity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Peristaltic (650487) * on Saturday December 03, 2011 @01:03AM (#38247494)
    ...it's nice to see it in action once in a while.
    • Re:Sanity (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 03, 2011 @01:13AM (#38247532)
      I can't believe there is a government that still makes sane decisions. Thank god for Swiss people.
      • by Weezul (52464)

        Related : http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,800850,00.html

    • Re:Sanity (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hyperhaplo (575219) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @05:08AM (#38248442)

      Don't expect it to last.
      No doubt the US will try and strongarm this down sometime soon.

      Meanwhile, does anyone else have the urge to move to Switzerland?

  • 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.

    • Switzerland is a good place to have international meetings. The meeting that brought many works out of the US public domain happened in Uruguay, but I don't think they have all the much to do with that provision.
  • 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"

    • Re:Holy smoke (Score:5, Informative)

      by larry bagina (561269) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @01:14AM (#38247542) Journal

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

      "Swiss" is an adjective. "Switzerland" is the country.

    • The next RIAA publicity campaign will equate this policy by the Suise to the volume of Jewish gold and art that ended up in their country after World War II. "Those evil Suise will steal anything. Now they are taking money from our poor executives ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hartists."
  • by SensitiveMale (155605) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @01:12AM (#38247524)

    I don't condone piracy but I can understand it.

  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by artor3 (1344997) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @01:14AM (#38247538)

    "...the copyright holders won't suffer because of it, since people eventually spend the money saved on entertainment products."

    How do they reach that conclusion? Every dollar I don't spend buying a song or book or movie is not necessarily a dollar I spend on some other piece of media. Those dollars go into the general fund, and get spent on food and gas and rent and utilities. If there's money left over, it goes to general entertainment, but that includes stuff like restaurants and bars and sports tickets and travel. Things that in no way support the people I didn't pay. Maybe some small percentage ends up buying some other piece of media, but it would be a very small percentage.

    So now we've got one side claiming that piracy costs a quintillion dollars a year, and the other side claiming that it costs absolutely nothing. Can we please get some sane leaders to acknowledge the obvious fact: it costs the media companies something, but nowhere near what they claim? That it's bad enough that it should stay illegal, but not so bad that people's lives should be ruined over half a dozen songs? Why does everything need to be black and white?

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by capedgirardeau (531367) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @01:19AM (#38247572)

      I only have 1 anecdote, but for sure I would not spend money on buying TV series on DVD if I didn't download some of the series first.

      I have spent hundreds on TV series in the past 4 years that was only spent because I could preview the show via download.

      I had never spent a dime on a DVD and didn't intend to until I started downloading.

      So for some people at least, the industry don't lose one red cent of money from downloading, but instead makes money it would have never made if downloading didn't exist.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Gaygirlie (1657131) <(moc.liamtoh) (ta) (eilrigyag)> on Saturday December 03, 2011 @01:35AM (#38247672) Homepage

      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.

      • 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:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AdamWill (604569) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @02:30AM (#38247938) Homepage

      It depends what you mean by 'costs'.

      Fundamentally the Swiss argument is correct.

      Let's say you spend 10% of your disposable income on music. Now Napster comes along and you download all your music for free, depriving record company executives - I'm sorry, starving artists - that 10% of your disposable income.

      Now, the key question is: what do you do with the savings?

      Your piracy is only ultimately 'costing' the overall economy anything if you then reduce your working hours and take a pay cut that exactly offsets the money you would otherwise have spent on music. If instead you do the same amount of work and take the money and do something else with it - anything else - then the overall world economy has lost precisely nothing. That money winds up going to someone, somewhere. It stays in the system. It isn't magically destroyed.

      There's some interesting subsidiary questions, of course. Like 'what do you spend the money on instead'? At _this_ specific point the Swiss argument is on somewhat shaky ground; I'm not sure they sufficiently proved that the money would be spent on other entertainment products. It would seem more reasonable that maybe people would spend it on _other_ discretionary spending instead. Maybe clothes, put it towards a car, drinks - it doesn't really matter. The point is that if you take the saving and spend it on something else, you're now not just 'costing' the specific music artists in question money, you're 'costing' the entire entertainment industry money.

      This is the key point: this is really what the entertainment industry is worried about. And to a degree it's a legitimate worry. Making it very easy to pirate stuff probably _does_ cost the entertainment industry some amount of money, overall, compared to what they could theoretically make if it wasn't possible. It's a complex argument, maybe it does, maybe it doesn't, but the point of view that it does can at least be sustained.

      Now, the entertainment industry is of course entirely self-serving and therefore attempts to portray this specific loss of economic activity in their sector as if it is some sort of magic overall loss to the economy. It Costs X Billion Dollars, they say - though those X Billion Dollars are not, as we've already seen, magically destroyed. They just go somewhere else. It Costs X Hundred Thousand Jobs - again, it probably doesn't. The jobs just wind up in some other sector.

      However, the entertainment lobby again has a legitimate argument - to some degree, in some jurisdictions. See, you can make the argument that there is an overall cost to an even bigger entity than 'the entertainment industry' - it can be reasonably sustained that there's some degree of overall concrete negative effect on the economies of specific countries. Particularly those countries which are dominant in the entertainment industry.

      Now maybe it becomes a little more clear why America is always pushing for jackbooted copyright laws: America is at the forefront of the worldwide entertainment industry. Hollywood probably represents a huge net trade surplus to the American economy: lots of people who aren't Americans spend part of their disposable income on American movies, American music and so on. Maybe if you go spend that money on clothes instead, more of it winds up in China. Maybe if you go spend that money on a computer instead, more of it winds up in...er, China. Maybe if you go spend that money on a vacation to Beijing instead...hey, okay, I kid. But you see the point. While it's almost inarguably true that piracy does not have any overall impact on the global economy, it's certainly plausible to argue that, to some degree, it hurts America and benefits just about everyone who isn't America.

      That degree is probably proportionally tiny. But you can bet it's a scare card the entertainment lobby plays as hard as it can to politicians.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by 1u3hr (530656) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @05:03AM (#38248422)

      How do they reach that conclusion?

      Maybe if you read the fucking article you wouldn't have to guess.

      In summary "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."

      They actually did surveys and have figures to back that up. But don't let facts get in the way when they go against your preconceptions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 03, 2011 @01:14AM (#38247540)

    Also they pay 'copyright tax' on every blank media, hdd and ssd sold that get redistributed to registered artists.

  • 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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Animats (122034)

      Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, etc. all have more socialism and more general social trust (as I understand it) than most countries.

      Switzerland does have some socialism, but it's local, as in communal heating systems for a town. As for "general social trust", a typical Swiss railroad ticket booth has armor glass, banks go much further than that, and the country has bomb shelters for the entire population. There are hidden underground military facilities throughout the country, everyone in the military reserves has an assault rifle and a combat load of ammo at home, and they all have to requalify on the range every year. Social trust i

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 03, 2011 @05:18AM (#38248466)

      You know, I'm Dutch. Nowhere I've lived does anyone leave the stroller outside the store, people would consider anyone who did so careless. What I have noticed however is the total idiocy of Americans when they hear the word socialism, it's like the magic word to turn their brains inside out; if you so much as mention the word that conflicts with their very deeply held belief in their governmental system they perform the same acts of miraculous mental gymnastic that extremely religious tend to do.

      People here are greedy, people are shit, individualist, selfish. You know what? They're still human. Hey imagine, we also have crime and stuff.

      Please try and decipher the world without adhering to socialism as some antagonizing feature for ideas. If I go out of a job, I am fucked just as you are. I pay insurance every month to make sure I can afford a doctor and dentist. I also pirate, I pirate the shit out of things; especially popular american culture. All my money goes to artists who rise above that level of discourse. I pay my taxes happily knowing that some people benefitted from that education 'socialist' me provides so I can enjoy the fruit of their labor instead of watching something made to appeal to some total zombie.

      There will always be a difference between any two countries, but please don't draw utterly stupid and uneducated conclusions from brainwashed guesswork. And thanks to socialism you can even disagree with me because I speak your language. Ace.

    • 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.

  • 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:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Saturday December 03, 2011 @03:54AM (#38248230) Homepage

      I don't get this. Why would someone pay for something they already got for free?

      Added value. Most people are not going to download full BluRay iso from the net, but .avi's that lack extra features, extra languages, resolution, quality, etc. thus buying the movie again after having verified that it's actually worth to have will still give some things they haven't seen yet. This might of course only apply to a lesser degree to other media.

      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

      That however doesn't mean that it is not contributing to that. A heavy movie watcher will get their movies through all available channels, some of them might be piracy, because there simply isn't any commercial offering that offers him what piracy does.

      I just don't get the mindset that not only thinks they are entitled to something they didn't pay for

      Well, most people pirate simply because they can, a lot because they don't have the money, some because they like to try before they buy, some because they want to "catch'em all", etc. In essence there are lots of reasons why people might pirate. It's not about entitlement, but simply about availability.

      Also, do you have a clear conscience while forwarding through commercial breaks on a TV recording? As that's pretty much the same thing as piracy, at least morally speaking.

      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 signifies a level of denial I can't even begin to imagine suffering under.

      There is no level of denial. Copyright is not something 'God given" or "law of nature", it's something that was established to benefit society. The problem today is that fighting piracy is causing far more harm then good and has absolutely no benefit to society. It also has lead to a lot of invasion into privacy and other corrupt laws.

      (but don't you dare steal copyrighted GPL code!)

      That's about deriving profits from other peoples work, while not following the license. Very different thing. Your average pirate isn't all that big of a fan of commercial piracy either.

      Irony with that of cause is that current laws drive people into commercial piracy, as services like Rapidshare, Megaupload and whatever provide better privacy protection then Bittorrent.

    • by gweihir (88907)

      People pay for something they can get for free, because they realize that if somebody provides real value to you, it is polite (and in the long term very useful) to provide value back. If you do not get this, then you are displaying characteristics of extreme egoism here, or you are simply unable to see the bigger picture. I would say that in a country where your mind-set is typical for the majority, the copyright industry and the content creators may indeed be doomed. Fortunately your unenlightened viewpoi

  • can still get you sued?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 03, 2011 @01:38AM (#38247686)

    Sony, Apple and all their minions can go to hell. After all in Switzerland there is still open internet radio like this http://glb-stream11.streamserver.ch/1/rsc_de/mp3_128
    Whereas here in backward north america us classical music folks are mostly screwed over by either itunes, silverlight crap, or locked out flash based shit stations. Of course I can always go back to Europe and get real music from great stations like http://lyd.nrk.no/nrk_radio_klassisk_mp3_h or better still, http://amp.cesnet.cz:8000/cro-d-dur.flac
    So what if I record some or the content with vlc so I can listen later...who gives a shit. I do not redistribute or profit from my action.
    Sony, Apple, Microsoft and all the RIAA assholes everywhere can go fuck themselves. What you have done to classical music world wide is inexcusable and I hope you suffer the consequences of your short sighted pop centric view of the listening public and music!

  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @02:04AM (#38247814)
    Because of all the harassment of the RIAA and MPAA, I won't go watch things in theaters anymore or buy music. I'm not pirating either. I simply stopped consuming because I feel rights holders are causing problems in society such as suing grandmothers for millions and lobbying congress for laws that impact the freedom of speech. I know I'm in the minority and they'll make money from others, but if we vote with our dollars, I'm done voting RIAA and MPAA.
  • by Chexsum (583832) <chexsum&gmail,com> on Saturday December 03, 2011 @02:52AM (#38248016) Homepage Journal
    Real artists want everyone to enjoy their performance regardless of monetary reward. Real artists are also pirates that have chosen to spend their money wisely. Real artists are not complaining about supposed theft of digital copies because the poor artist is well-known. Burn, Hollywood, Burn!
  • by bradley13 (1118935) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @05:29AM (#38248508) Homepage

    Do note that Swiss pay a hefty copying levy [wikipedia.org]. In particular, we pay a fee on the amount of memory in smart phones, iPods, MP3 players, and the like. This fee is supposed to be compensation for the copying that goes on. Since we've paid for it, it is really only fair that we are allowed to copy.

    Also note: while downloading is legal, uploading is not.

    • by Needlzor (1197267)
      For what it's worth, we also pay a tax on memory on almost anything that can store a few mp3's in France but we still get screwed if we get caught downloading.
  • by Hentes (2461350) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @07:06AM (#38248790)

    he 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.

    This is what many just don't get. People don't have an unlimited amount of money. The ridicolus amounts of money that publishers claim to use due to piracy doesn't exist. Most of the time, the amount of what people spend on entertainment is constant. When they can pirate films and music for free, they will spend the remainder to go to cinemas and concerts. Of course, that changes the structure of the whole business, with new players entering and the old ones losing money, and those who can't change will try to use legislation to stay in business.

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