EU court: The Netherlands' citizens can't download copyrighted movies and music for free

People in the Netherlands once had the right to download copyrighted movies and music for free for personal use. The country's government set things up so that it put a "piracy levy" on certain products to appease the film and music industries. Today, The European Court of Justice has ruled that the country's "piracy levy" is now illegal,

According to TorrentFreak, the levy was put in place in The Netherlands as an extra fee for the sale of hard drives, writable media, and any device that had onboard storage like smartphones and PCs. However, electronics companies like Sony and Phillips, along with electronic retail stores, sued the government, saying that such a levy was unlawful.

The EU court's decision agreed with the electronics companies, stating that the "piracy levy" actually encourages more distribution of pirated copyrighted content. It added that such a system gives an "unfair disadvantage to the copyright holders." It also pointed out that people in the Netherlands who buy music and movies through completely legal means are still hit with the levy when they buy those products.

Today's decision could also affect Switzerland, which also permits downloading copyrighted content for personal use.

Source: TorrentFreak | Copyright image via Shutterstock

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36 Comments

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in here ( Portugal ) you can download for personal use, but you cant upload, so its like the movie fairy visited your house and magically added movie to your library.

Only the upload of content is forbidden by law.

In Hungary we pay this exact fee after every data storage device, from writeable optical discs to winchesters, pendrives, SD cards, smartphones, etc. even after photocopiers. On the other hand, downloading/copying movies and music for personal use is allowed. It's at least a two decade old law, I wonder why sony and philips never bothered to attack it here.

they has such law! wow. EU is generally really progressive compared to business money funded "democracy" in the US. The idea such a fee existed by basically pre-fining you for copyright infringement is hilarious. No doubt one that the US house of reps would love to pass to appease their corporate overlords.

neonspark said,
they has such law! wow. EU is generally really progressive compared to business money funded "democracy" in the US. The idea such a fee existed by basically pre-fining you for copyright infringement is hilarious. No doubt one that the US house of reps would love to pass to appease their corporate overlords.

it is not a fine, it is a tax that supposedly compensate for potential copyright infringements. For example in Italy, and if I remember correctly in France, you can legally make a backup copy of the DVDs you bought in store.

Lets talk about the real reason pirated copyrighted content exists....

The Entertainment Industry has no respect for their customers and Gouge the crap out of us with their Pricing.


MikadoWu said,
Lets talk about the real reason pirated copyrighted content exists....

The Entertainment Industry has no respect for their customers and Gouge the crap out of us with their Pricing.


While I agree, their customers still buy the "products" and they make money. If no one bought their stuff they wouldnt make any money.

Nothing wrong with pricing high. You just limit against those who arent willing to pay as much for it. And as someone who doesnt like to pay extreme prices for stuff, I usually dont buy it =/.

MikadoWu said,
Lets talk about the real reason pirated copyrighted content exists....

The Entertainment Industry has no respect for their customers and Gouge the crap out of us with their Pricing.


Sorry, but this is an excuse. Movies & music aren't something people can't live without like food & water; excess profiting on those items definitely qualify as gouging. People pirate digital content because we have a generation of people who grew up thinking digital=free. If you steal a $1 stick of lip balm from the drugstore or copy an MP3 without paying for it you're a thief, plain and simple. Granted, it's not on the same level as robbing a bank or stealing a car, but...

jingarelho said,
no its not the same.... if i download one mp3, you still have your mp3, if i steal a stick of lip balm its gone.

Except, if I have my mp3 on iTunes for 1.29 and your friend buys it for that, then you download it from your friend, that 1.29 I could of got from you is gone. So, in the end, it amounts to the same thing to the producer of the lip balm AND the artist. Lost revenue.

A lot of people download something to test it, because they don't have money to spare to waste on things they might not like, this is why demos existed at one point, but no longer really exist.

A try before you buy if you will, and really, piracy does actually help the industries in that way imo, some people will always just download and never pay but some will download, like it, and decide it's worth buying. It's not a straight up lost sale or even a "theft" like you're saying though. Piracy isn't stealing automatically. :p

Alera said,
A lot of people download something to test it, because they don't have money to spare to waste on things they might not like, this is why demos existed at one point, but no longer really exist.

A try before you buy if you will, and really, piracy does actually help the industries in that way imo, some people will always just download and never pay but some will download, like it, and decide it's worth buying. It's not a straight up lost sale or even a "theft" like you're saying though. Piracy isn't stealing automatically. :p

What do you call lost profits because of someone downloading material you made without paying you? That is theft. Just because its digital doesnt mean you cant steal it. It usually means its cheaper because it takes less money to reproduce it. Also, look up the meaning of piracy, like the sea pirate. "practice of a pirate; robbery or illegal violence at sea." Piracy in the digital realm got its name for a reason =).

Also, piracy doesnt help an industry. People hearing about it through someone who stole and maybe buying it isnt a good reason to say its ok to do it =). For a few companies/artists/situations it may have helped someone out. But by and large its a negative to the industry. If you want to help whatever it is you are pirating and you like it, pay them! Cause they need to make a living and making good content that you value should reap some reward.

Basically I just want people to stop trying to rationalize their actions to think they are ok to do it, or even, helping the industry. If you pirate something, you stole it. Just say it =). Own it.

Now, there is another side of the coin to piracy as well too. If producers of content wanted to reduce piracy they could do a lot of things to help that out. Some are willing. Some arent. But there are some messed up situations (like content being locked out of an area) that is hard to swallow as a consumer...

Sea piracy != Digital Piracy, Theft != Copying, etc etc, Lost profits would be the people who download and don't pay anything to the content producer for it, that's a lost sale... but you can't quantify how much piracy leads to that.

Piracy can indeed help the industries, I'm not saying it's a good reason to do it, but it's a reason. Until the content providers and distributers make a content delivery system that actually provides people what they want at a price they want, we'll come back to the same issues time and time again.

There's no reason to say it, pretty much everyone I know has pirated at least once in their life, most buy the thing they copied, it's not theft and it's not stealing. If you look at some content producers and the way they deal with piracy, you'll see why they succeed in their ways even with piracy, they respect their customers who are willing to pay, they don't attempt to get large sums of money out of them and they don't try to push DRM onto them and they have a live and let live opinion of piracy, fact is, you can't force someone to pay something for your content, all you can do is encourage people to pay for it. That is how things should be done for consumers imo.

Alera said,
Sea piracy != Digital Piracy, Theft != Copying, etc etc, Lost profits would be the people who download and don't pay anything to the content producer for it, that's a lost sale... but you can't quantify how much piracy leads to that.

Piracy can indeed help the industries, I'm not saying it's a good reason to do it, but it's a reason. Until the content providers and distributers make a content delivery system that actually provides people what they want at a price they want, we'll come back to the same issues time and time again.

There's no reason to say it, pretty much everyone I know has pirated at least once in their life, most buy the thing they copied, it's not theft and it's not stealing. If you look at some content producers and the way they deal with piracy, you'll see why they succeed in their ways even with piracy, they respect their customers who are willing to pay, they don't attempt to get large sums of money out of them and they don't try to push DRM onto them and they have a live and let live opinion of piracy, fact is, you can't force someone to pay something for your content, all you can do is encourage people to pay for it. That is how things should be done for consumers imo.

Lol, I didnt say people dont pirate nor do I say content producers are doing thing very well. And I agree, they need to do something about delivering their content to places.

But what I disagree with is that it isnt robbery. Because it is. It doesnt matter if you copy it. Its not yours to copy because you didnt buy it. If you buy it then of course it isnt theft. But if you "copy" it without buying it then it is theft. Its not that hard of a concept to see.

I also said piracy can help and industry but its rare. Really rare. And if piracy happens to much then content producers wont keep producing their content. If we want high quality content then we should probably pay for it. Eventually. That is my real point here =).

I'm pretty sure you have a different definition of theft and stealing than I, the English language and UK law does...

Right, because the alternative... imposing levies on people who weren't doing anything wrong is obviously so much fairer.

Javik said,
Right, because the alternative... imposing levies on people who weren't doing anything wrong is obviously so much fairer.

It's a battle the media/electronics companies won't win. But if they want to carry on that's fine. Plenty of popcorn in my cupboard.

This court verdict disagrees with your hypothesis. Placing levies on media because they *may* be used for piracy is little more than punishment on assumption of guilt without proof of guilt, which isn't the way first world societies should work.

you do know it was already illegal to download anything copyrighted in the Netherlands right?

It's just not permitted by law to search every computer in the Netherlands for piracy ware (Privacy laws etc.) that's why it might have looked "legal" to download music/movies.

Today's decision could also affect Switzerland, which also permits downloading copyrighted content for personal use.

I didn't know that. I knew they were very lax about it, but I didn't realise it was to that extent.

No it's not. It's not even remotely the same. Independent European states CAN (not forced to enter and can leave) join the EU. You get a lot of advantages from joining and there are disadvantages. One example would be the UK is getting fined 300million (might be £ or euro not too sure) for not reaching goals set by the EU on climate change. Now it's great they're doing this because we want to be able to inhabit Earth for a long time to come but it's bad for UK tax payers who will pay the bill.

No it's not. It's not even remotely the same. Independent European states CAN (not forced to enter and can leave) join the EU. You get a lot of advantages from joining and there are disadvantages.

At one point independent USA states considered themselves sovereign and free to leave the union if they wanted (but there were benefits). Obviously, secession of member states was only attempted once, but I won't get into that blood bath.

I think that the point glen8 is making is that the EU is federal. EU is ramping up its power and authority over member states in much the same Washington DC has done over the years with US member states (and for the betterment of us all in some instances such as civil rights). The unfortunate side effect is federalist create enormous bureaucracies that can become terrible inefficient and suck tax money out of the citizens without much benefit.

A better (but still flawed) comparison would be Washington changing laws for the member states of the USA.

I'm one of those citizens from The Netherlands. I am pro-EU but I do believe we have to limit the degree of integration. There are clear benefits to collaborating. An Obvious one is the market position that can be achieved by forming one block (Fort Europe). But we have to carefully consider the fields in which we cooperate.

Although this doesn't change real world usage. There were and will be pirates inside and outside of The Netherlands. If anything I think our government was very progressive in understand that this can't be contained. And this finding a different solution. Maybe it wasnt perfect but it was better then making software pirating illegal. This obviously doesn't work. Even in the USA where you can be fined millions its still a problem.

The UK getting fined is funny because Scotland is one of the best countries in the world on renewable energy at the moment.

torrentthief said,

cheaper harddrives, usb sticks, cd's and dvds :)

Nop, the money that is now saved goes to the guys who made harddrives, usb sticks, etc. The end users won't be affected in any good way.