Dutch press ahead with download ban

The Dutch government is to proceed with legislation to introduce a ban on the downloading of music and films via illegal websites, despite widespread opposition in parliament.

The legislation would give people whose copyright has been infringed the right to go to court to claim compensation. This is already the case for games and software but the government wants to extend that to music and film. Such a ban would replace the current ‘home copy’ surcharge levied on blank CDs and DVDs.

“I cannot stand still and do nothing because there is pressure from the European Commission,” State Secretary for Security and Justice Fred Teeven told MPs during a parliamentary debate November 30 on the plan. “But I can count heads and I see that I have a problem,” he admitted, alluding to the lack of support among MPs for the proposal.

“It is not always obvious what is actually illegal,” Labour MP Pauline Smeets was reported as saying in de Volkskrant. “Labour supports a free and open Internet… consumers should not have all sorts of legal cases hanging over them.”

The D66 (Liberal Democrat) party wants an expansion in the supply of legal copying services to counter demand from illegal sites.

Despite the opposition, Teeven said he hopes that amendments to the draft legislation will persuade some MPs to change their minds. The debate is scheduled to resume in May 2012.

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