Dutch Government Making Downloading from P2P Sites Illegal

The Secretary of the Dutch Government for Security and Justice, Fred Teeven, is hell bent on making it illegal to download anything for personal use. He wants to make copyright holders able to force ISPs into blocking websites and services by obtaining a court order, if any website or service is accused of infringing upon their copyrights.

The Netherlands, a land formally known for freedom, inhibition and neutrality, is now becoming a part of the repressive movement, looking to enforce copyright crimes and filter the Internet.

Teeven says that he just wants to modernize the country’s current copyright laws, giving them more power and authority over their content. But the Dutch laws already state that it is illegal to upload any copyrighted material to the Internet, under the illegal distribution laws. Downloading this same material for your own personal use has been legal for all content other than software or games.

But Teeven wants movies and music to be added to this list, making downloading from P2P sites completely illegal.

They currently have a levy tax on blank media devices, such as CD-Rs, but they plan to eliminate this tax in exchange for making downloading movies and music illegal. They say that it would also prevent further taxes on media devices such as iPods and other MP3 players, laptops, USB storage devices and DVD recorders; but since when has anything prevented taxes?

Once a website or service has been proven to have acted illegally and offered music and movie downloading for free, copyright holders will be able to request that these sites are blocked from customers.

In other words, if they don’t like what you’re downloading from a certain website, they’ll soon block it and you won’t be able to see it again. Teeven says that this would be the last option they would take, giving websites and services time to defend themselves, but that’s truly doubtful. They shouldn’t have to defend themselves in the first place because according to the current laws, what they provide is entirely legal.

Teeven also says that copyright licenses are due for reform as well. They need to keep up with the pace of the Internet and be easier to obtain, mostly so the government can enforce things more easily and they can’t be accused of anything unfair or unjust.

He says that the new laws would encourage creative reworking of media, allowing people to edit and change copyrighted material to share on the Internet, but many are wary of this. Copyright holders will most likely get just as angry about that, and soon it will be illegal to download altered media as well.

The anti-downloading and anti-P2P organization referred to as BREIN said that they are in full support of this new legal action. They have been successfully shutting down piracy websites as well as individuals who download illegally for many years. They are thrilled that the last line of defense for P2P sites is finally being breached.

Canada may have deemed P2P downloading legal, but other countries are still cracking down on illegal downloading. The US, along with forty other nations across the world, have signed a sworn statement saying that all people should have full access to the Internet and everything that it provides, whether it costs money or not. The statement follows the decree made by the UN, saying that Internet access is a human right, allowing individuals their freedom of opinion as well as expression.

This statement even went beyond its human rights component to say that there should be as little repression of Internet information as is possible. Only in certain limited situations would restriction be used, such as when other human rights are being violated, or if the information is harming someone or something.

This statement makes it clear that making downloading from P2P sites illegal is just plain wrong. When people are no longer allowed to express themselves, on the Internet or otherwise, the civilized world is coming to an end. We live in a technology driven world, with everything from Blu-Ray players and iPods to in-car navigation systems and smart phones. Shutting down every website or service that makes someone unhappy would eliminate the Internet within a year.

People who say they are anti-P2P or anti-downloading might as well say that they are anti-technology. When the means are available, people will do as they please. This freedom of expression includes the act of downloading music, movies and other media as they see fit.

Some people will choose to purchase these things and others will not. Usually the people that download from P2P sites simply can’t afford to purchase the media they require to express themselves. Is that really a right we want to take away from them?

With more and more of the world joining the Internet repression bandwagon, it’s hard to say whether or not our rights will extend to the World Wide Web much longer.