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EU Piracy Your Rights Online

EU Court Asked To Rule On Private Copying 157

Techmeology writes "The Dutch Supreme Court has asked the European Court of Justice to decide whether downloading copyrighted material for personal use — even from illegal sources — is legal. At the heart of the debate is whether the European Copyright Directive requires that any new legal copy of material must have originated from a copy that is itself legal. The case tests the law in the Netherlands, where copyright holders are granted a levy on blank media in exchange for the legalization of private copying." In the Netherlands, it is already legal to download from illegal sources. But EU law might conflict and trump that.
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EU Court Asked To Rule On Private Copying

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  • by aNonnyMouseCowered ( 2693969 ) on Tuesday September 25, 2012 @10:55PM (#41459499)
    "Is Switzerland considered a socialist nation?" First, I doubt whether Switzerland's opinion matters when the country's not even a member of the European Union. Second, what makes you think that copyright is inherently capitalist that having liberal copy laws makes that country socialist? Copyright is neither socialist nor capitalist. In fact, copyright is closer to feudalism than to either econo-political systems. Copyright dates from the time when absolute monarchs would grant subjects what a monopoly on certain fields. Perhaps a knight would gain control, if not ownership, of some tracts of lands in exchange for serving in the king's army. Notice how copyright and patent holders are supposed to receive "royalties"? Copyright, or at least the version that says "All rights reserved", is one idea that should have gone out with the divine right of kings.
  • Re:Trumping laws (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fearofcarpet ( 654438 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @01:01AM (#41460207)

    I can't speak for The Netherlands, but in the United States, there are certain things that "International Law" cannot do in the United States.

    As a basic rule (there are no doubt exceptions), if Congress can't do it by law, the President and the Senate can't do it by treaty.

    Unfortunately for us UE citizen, we completely wrecked people sovereignty when building UE. Many key policies are in the hands of the UE commission or the UE council, without much control left on what they do.

    It is true that Brussels can impose laws on the EU, but it is hardly "wrecking sovereignty," particularly in the Netherlands which has benefited tremendously from environmental laws that regulate upstream pollution in other sovereign nations and the open borders that have lead to its current trade surplus. Without the EU, Germany and France could dump waste in the Rhine and the Maas at their borders and impose tariffs on Dutch goods and the Netherlands would just have to deal with it.

    The Dutch government (and the other EU member states) voted to follow EU law (the EU Commission is not an unelected dictatorship) in this matter and therefore has to make sure that its own laws comply--if member states could cherry-pick which laws to follow, the EU would not function. And you can argue about the Euro all you like, but modern Europe simply wouldn't be possible without a governing body like the EU to regulate trade, enforce open borders, create uniform environmental policies, provide research funding, oversee oil and gas distribution, ensure fair use of airspace, launch satellites, etc. It has flaws, sure, and some of the silly regulations in the name of uniformity are, well, silly, but you can't seriously believe that tiny countries like the Benelux, Ireland, and Estonia would have been more prosperous on their own.

  • It must remain legal (Score:4, Interesting)

    by xenobyte ( 446878 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @03:20AM (#41460905)

    In Denmark it has been legal for decades to make copies for personal use. You are even allowed to make copies of copy protected materials if you need to remove copy protection in order to play the material. We also have a "blank disk levy" to compensate for pirating.

    Now, as the Canadian Supreme Court ruled, if you pay to compensate for pirating you're allowed to pirate. So the levy works both ways - or it would be a tax benefiting private entities as opposed to the state, which is illegal in itself.

    As you pay the levy on the destination media regardless of the legality of the source material, you are of course also entitled to make copies of illegally downloaded materials. Now, the act of downloading is actually identical to making a copy for personal use, so that's actually legal if you paid the levy on the destination media. If this is ruled illegal, then the levy is illegal as well. You cannot force people to for something they don't get. Even taxes are payment for the services of the government. The levy is very specific and thus clearly illegal if downloading is illegal.

  • Re:Trumping laws (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Teun ( 17872 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @03:29AM (#41460939) Homepage
    Indeed, in most of the EU international treaties 'in principle' override national laws.
    Especially so in The Netherlands where modern international law was more or less invented by Hugo de Groot [] , there is a reason the International Court of Justice is based here.
    International treaties were essential for this small country to become a major trading nation.
    Until now we've had a strong vestige in our law to only go after those 'making available' copyrighted work while private use of such copies has been widely accepted.
    It's going to be interesting to see the outcome of this EU court case.
  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @05:32AM (#41461505)

    Except the EU has for the most part produced and enforced laws that are actually better for the average citizen than the laws wanted by their constituent nations. That's certainly true for the UK - I can't legally be forced to work more than 48hrs a week through threat of punishment or even losing my job by an abusive employer thanks to the EU, but the Tories and Labour would both like it if I could be forced to work 100hrs with no recourse.

    The reason the EU often does a better job than national governments is that the European Parliament that votes on these things:

    1) Is elected proportionally, and hence directly reflects the interests of the people in equal proportion

    2) Consists of representatives representing many different cultures and areas of society meaning that lobbyists struggle to gain a foothold as they can't just go after one party and pay them off to get a law in their favour, but must lobby half of the representatives in Europe, which is prohibitively costly for almost all companies in the world

    3) Similarly to the point above, representatives exist in multiple jurisdictions such that the media also can't unduly influence things because no company has full media monopoly across Europe. Murdoch largely controls the mindset of many of the drones who vote British elections for example, but has pretty much zero influence in much of the rest of Europe. This is why Murdoch and his empire have invested so much in defaming Europe and pushing the idea suggesting the UK needs a referendum - because it's a threat to his control over our country.

    It's not perfect, the European Commission doesn't have at least the first two protections, meaning it is trivially lobbyable and controllable, but it still needs the support of the European parliament to succeed.

    Honestly, if there's one political institution in Europe that IS accountable to voters, it's the European Parliament precisely because there is little room for lobbyists to fiddle things or media to unduly influence the overall makeup of the parliament - it can corrupt small fractions of it, but that's not enough to change things.

"Never give in. Never give in. Never. Never. Never." -- Winston Churchill