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Dutch Laws On Internet and Music

by Amsterdam.com
​The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has long contended that the downloading of unlicensed content costs the music industry millions of dollars every year. Five years ago the RIAA began its anti-fraud campaign that now totals over 30,000 lawsuits targeting illegal music sharing on peer-to-peer networks.
 
Despite the crackdown and fines of up to $150,000 per music track, RIAA spokesmen have said that the strategy of targeting music fans instead of businesses was not to be vindictive or punitive, but simply to get the users to stop offering music that does not belong to them. However, some users like Minnesota mother Jammie Thomas might disagree. Thomas was fined with a $222,000 judgment for sharing 24 tracks in the RIAA’s only jury trial victory to date. Bur even that initial award is in doubt now as the judge in the case is expected to declare a mistrial after determining that he had committed an error in the case when he instructed the jury that merely offering music constituted copyright infringement.
 
The reality is that billions of copies of copyrighted songs are still being shared every year while the fundamental legal questions concerning file sharing still remain unaddressed. Other jurisdictions are coming down on file sharing around the world and New Zealand looks prepared to extradite the founder of Megaupload.com for copying and distributing$175 million worth of music and movies. Today, the RIAA’s investigators continue to target anyone in the U.S. who uses file sharing networks illegally, but that situation may be changing. Critics of the RIAA lawsuits the music industry should stop going after individual music fans, and start looking for more viable alternatives because the lawsuits are s not having any effect on the number of people currently trading music online.
 
In recent news from the Netherlands, the Dutch government announced its own plans to crack down on internet service providers that allow access to file-sharing sites, instead of going after the downloaders. In the typical common sense Dutch manner of doing things just a bit differently, a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said Dutch laws would be amended to reflect recent court rulings, but would not criminalize the individual downloaders, as is the practice in most European countries today. As part of the new Dutch approach, A Dutch court earlier this month ordered two ISPs to block access to Pirate Bay by February 1 due to blatant copyright infringement.
 
Instead of the unsuccessful draconian approach taken by the RIAA in the United States, it appears the Dutch are attempting to find a balance between protecting against copyright infringements and the need for a free and open Internet. As a result, the proposal to make all copyright infringement websites against the law will make its way to the Dutch parliament in the next few months. However, even the kinder, gentler Dutch way of dealing with Internet piracy has its critics and some have said blocking certain sites sets a dangerous precedent because the legislation would rely on the same technologies as used countries like Iran and China to censor the Internet. However you slice it, the conflict over revised legislation aimed at the enforcement of intellectual property rights is far from over.

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