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Private File Sharing To Remain/Become legal In EU 147 147

orzetto writes "Italian newspapers are reporting that the European parliament's Commitee for Legal Affairs approved an amendment presented by EMP Nicola Zingaretti (PSE, IT), that makes piracy a felony—but only if a monetary profit is made. As in the EU parliament's press release: 'Members of the Legal Affairs' committee [...] decided that criminal sanctions should only apply to those infringements deliberately carried out to obtain a commercial advantage. Piracy committed by private users for personal, non-profit purposes are therefore also excluded.' The complete proposal was passed with 23 votes in favour, 3 against and 3 abstained, and is intended to be applied to copyright, trademark, design and other IP fields, but not patent right which is explicitly excluded. The proposal has still to pass the vote of the parliament before becoming law in all EU countries, some of which (like Italy) do have criminal laws in place for non-profit file sharing. A note: Most EU countries use civil law, not common law. Translation of legal terms may be misleading."
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Private File Sharing To Remain/Become legal In EU

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  • by mjmalone (677326) * on Friday March 30, 2007 @03:16PM (#18547667) Homepage
    It's funny because this is how copyright law was generally interpreted in the United States prior to the Napster era. The first criteria (of four) that is used to determine whether something is "fair use" is related to whether the use is "of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes." Today fair use in the U.S. is interpreted so narrowly that might as well be non-existent. What's doubly weird is that the EU is typically more protective of IP than the United States is. It will be interesting to see what happens if this amendment is passed by parliament.
  • Re:Seems sensible. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mjmalone (677326) * on Friday March 30, 2007 @03:25PM (#18547783) Homepage
    Oftentimes they gain a sale. Because you now know their software you're more likely to purchase it in the future (assuming it works...) That's the reason these companies give huge student discounts, and is also the reason why a "leaky" copyright system typically works the best for everybody.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2007 @03:27PM (#18547817)
    Well, the situation is now fundamentally different. It used to be that one person copying a tape for a bunch of friends was no big deal. Even if it was a CD that reproduced almost perfectly with data verification it wouldn't likely get that far from the original buyer. Nowadays it's to the point where one person on earth could buy a CD and then that album could be downloaded by every person with a computer in a matter of hours or days given the right sharing service. (Torrents)
  • by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Friday March 30, 2007 @03:29PM (#18547861) Homepage
    I think the headline should have read "Pirate File Sharing to Remain/Become legal in EU". I don't think even the EU would outlaw companies' internal fileservers.
  • by pavon (30274) on Friday March 30, 2007 @03:29PM (#18547865)
    The summary and article aren't clear on this. Will people who distribute files still be liable for damages if found to be infringing upon copyrights in a civil lawsuit? If so, I don't think that it is accurate to call private file sharing legal, it just isn't criminal.
  • by mjmalone (677326) * on Friday March 30, 2007 @03:31PM (#18547901) Homepage
    Yes, and that's a problem, but the alternative doesn't have to be so severe either. Why, for example, do I have to pay Verizon $5 to download a ringtone for my cell phone when I already own the damned CD. The ringtone industry (which is a multi-BILLION dollar industry) is the perfect example of how content owners are trying to turn the U.S. into a pay-per-use economy. There has to be a middle ground here...
  • by Dunbal (464142) on Friday March 30, 2007 @03:38PM (#18547989)
    Nowadays it's to the point where one person on earth could buy a CD and then that album could be downloaded by every person with a computer in a matter of hours or days given the right sharing service. (Torrents)


          Yes, we've been at that point for a while now. And yet I see there's no shortage of wealthy artists... even if their music sucks.
  • Re:Seems sensible. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by drix (4602) on Friday March 30, 2007 @03:43PM (#18548051) Homepage
    That's a very specious line of reasoning. It's easy to say that you wouldn't have bought it anyways, but impossible to prove such a thing. The counterfactual world where you actually had to purchase all the software you're currently using unleashes an infinitude of alternative economic choices. What do you use Photoshop and Office for anyways? I doubt that's it's purely for kicks. Those are, by and large, business applications. So would the income you'd have to forgo by not using them outweigh the cost of the software itself? I know it wouldn't for me. Even if you are just using Photoshop to edit your personal photos, you might find a lot of disutility in having crappy, edited photos to showcase. Point being, you really can't say that you "wouldn't buy XX anyways", no matter how strongly you feel.
  • But seriously. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by vakuona (788200) on Friday March 30, 2007 @04:00PM (#18548297)
    Any bets on the definition of "monetary profit".

    monetary profit. 1. Spending less money than you earn.
                                      2. To avoid spending money by conducting illegal activity.

    I don't trust politicians.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2007 @04:05PM (#18548375)
    But you don't have to. You can just not have the ringtone. Trust me, my cellphone just does something like "gonk gonk gonk" when someone calls me, and I'm doing just fine.

    Blaming copyright because you bought a locked phone and a rip protected CD (which I assume to be the case, otherwise you'd just load the ringtone like a normal person) kind of misplaced blame a bit.
  • by Hijacked Public (999535) * on Friday March 30, 2007 @04:16PM (#18548577)
    It often happens that great artists are 'ahead of their time'. I think this often keeps them from being particularly successful in a business sense as not many people are willing to pay them while they are alive. Edward Stiechen had a decent career teaching and such, but no one paid $3 million for any of his photographs until after he died.
  • by Tackhead (54550) on Friday March 30, 2007 @04:34PM (#18548833)
    > Well, the situation is now fundamentally different. It used to be that one person copying a tape for a bunch of friends was no big deal. Even if it was a CD that reproduced almost perfectly with data verification it wouldn't likely get that far from the original buyer. Nowadays it's to the point where one person on earth could buy a CD and then that album could be downloaded by every person with a computer in a matter of hours or days given the right sharing service.

    So? As you correctly point out: the situation is now fundamentally different.

    "There has grown in the minds of certain groups in this country the idea that just because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with guaranteeing such a profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine is supported by neither statute or common law. Neither corporations or individuals have the right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped, or turned back."
    - Heinlein, Life Line, 1939.

    Maybe the right thing is for P2P to be banned. But maybe the right thing is for the content (movies, music, and yes, even software) industry to come up with a business model based on something other than the artificial scarcity imposed by the production costs of selling shiny plastic discs.

    Buggy-whip manufacturers probably said the same thing when Henry Ford came out with the automobile. Meanwhile, some guy whose business was making wheels for horse-drawn carriages decided to make stronger wheels that could be bolted onto automobiles.

  • by CannonballHead (842625) on Friday March 30, 2007 @04:58PM (#18549135)

    The interesting thing is... it seems nobody really cares about the artists that AREN'T wealthy.

    I'm a classical musician. It's hard to make a living in music when you're purely musical, and not a celebrity figure like most "artists" these days tend to be.

    So, the interesting thing about this little feud, to me, is that none of it really deals with the artists themselves. It seems that the RIAA is now seen as Microsoft is often seen (whether or not that's a valid vision of it or not I leave up to your discretion)... we fight it purely out of principle.

    But does fighting the RIAA or opening up file sharing and making copyrights pretty much useless actually help the artists at all? I'm a composer... if there were no copyrights whatsoever, and if somebody malicious wanted to steal a work by me (presuming it was even good enough to be worth stolen, of course) and claim it as their own and make money off of it... well, it's rather nice to have laws in place to prevent that. OpenSource Composition doesn't work well. People don't often donate to composers. Copyrights are necessary in a world where people are perfectly happy with stealing other people's music and distributing it. Human nature is easily enticed to take something for free rather than pay for it.

    So, what is this whole war between "private" file sharing and the RIAA doing to help the artists, whom, presumably, we all want to protect?

    Because there ARE people that will steal [slashdot.org] other people's recordings and do all kinds of things with them; even among musicians, copying sheet music instead of buying it is pretty frequent (and illegal). Because, of course, we all know that all musicians and composers are as famous and rich as Spears or Shore.

  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Friday March 30, 2007 @05:54PM (#18549877)
    In civilized parts of the world, cell phones have vibrators.
  • Complex Issue (Score:3, Insightful)

    by andersh (229403) on Friday March 30, 2007 @07:51PM (#18551139)

    Civil law on the other hand focuses mostly/exclusively on legislated statue.
    The problem is that Civil Law only describes in very general terms the legal systems of not only every European country (except England/UK) but most of the world.

    The difference between France and Germany are indeed many and significant - but that's only two out of 49 European countries. And then there's the rest of the world that inherited the system from their European colonial masters.

    To quote the website you referred to:

    Thus, in a civil law country such as Germany or France, a judge hearing a particular case does not look to the transcript or judicial opinion of a previous case to find the operable rule of law, but rather seeks out a relevant legislative or administrative statute to find the explicit text governing the point in question.
    This is in fact wrong and not the whole truth. Far too often the French system is seen as representative for all of Europe - which it is not. In fact European Community law is decided in line with previous verdicts - but with greater freedom of "interpretation" that can lead to new practices.
    However in each and every European country domestic law is still practised according to national traditions.

I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked at it in the right way, did not become still more complicated. -- Poul Anderson

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