Sunday, December 4, 2011

Swiss Government says downloading is legal for personal use

Downloading music, movies and video games has become an acceptable, yet still frowned upon, social norm. A lot of people do it, if not everyone. It’s not unusual to hear the entertainment industry fighting back against piracy in one way or another pretty much every week. That’s not the news here, though, what is is that for the first time, a government has actually agreed with the ‘pirates’ and told the entertainment industry to utilize the technology rather than going against the tide.

Some time back the Swiss government was complained to by many companies that illegal downloads by the public at large was hurting their revenue stream and that something should be done about it. Rather than just sitting back and letting the big organization push them around, the Swiss government actually conducted research in order to find out whether their laws regarding online downloads should be changed or not. Currently the Swiss law says that downloading music, movies and games for private use is not illegal.

Good for everyone?

Basically the Swiss government used a 2009 Dutch study that concluded that file-sharing actually has a positive effect on the economy, rather than hurting the entertainment industry. Extrapolating this report, since the Swiss economy is similar to Netherlands, the government concluded that downloading entertainment products for personal use doesn’t affect the bottom line of the entertainment companies, despite 1/3rd of the Swiss population over 15 years downloading movies, music and games. These downloads do not change the spending habits of these people as their budgets for entertainment media remains constant; the downloads are, in fact, complimentary.

The report goes onto say that anti-piracy laws in other countries are actually hurting the industry and the people’s right to freedom; going so far as to say that the ‘three strikes’ Hadopi Law in France directly contradicts basic human right to internet access as defined by the UN and that it should be repealed. The Swiss government says that entertainment industries should change their business models to adapt to new technologies rather than preventing consumer behavior as it evolves.

“Every time a new media technology has been made available, it has always been ‘abused’. This is the price we pay for progress. Winners will be those who are able to use the new technology to their advantages and losers those who missed this development and continue to follow old business models,” the report notes, as translated by Torrent Freak.


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