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Europe Rejects Plan To Criminalize File-Sharing 291

Posted by Soulskill
from the thanks-for-sharing dept.
Lineker points out a report that the European Parliament has rejected plans to criminalize file-sharing by private individuals. The amendment to remove the anti-piracy measures passed by a vote of 314-297. The decision is expected to influence how France, with its strict anti-piracy polices, approaches this issue when it assumes the EU presidency later this year. From InfoWorld: "France's so-called Oliviennes strategy to combat copyright abuse includes a 'three strikes and you are out' approach: Offenders lose the right to an Internet account after being caught sharing copyright-protected music over the Internet for a third time. The report is significant because it 'signifies resistance among MEPs to measures currently being implemented in France to disconnect suspected illicit filesharers,' the Open Rights Group said in a statement.
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Europe Rejects Plan To Criminalize File-Sharing

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  • RIGHT? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 10, 2008 @08:43PM (#23031872)
    The right to an internet account? So, France supplies every citizen with an account until they've had three strikes?
    • Re:RIGHT? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 10, 2008 @08:45PM (#23031888)
      No, there aren't many of what we would call rights in France. Freedom of Speech for example. They couldn't have a Led Zeppelin day on the radio for example, since a fixed percentage of the music must be in French.
      • Re:RIGHT? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by theheadlessrabbit (1022587) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @09:11PM (#23032038) Homepage Journal

        No, there aren't many of what we would call rights in France. Freedom of Speech for example. They couldn't have a Led Zeppelin day on the radio for example, since a fixed percentage of the music must be in French.
        So freedom and constitutional rights in the United States have eroded to the point where Freedom is now defined as the ability to play Led Zeppelin all day?

        How the hell do Content Laws have anything to do with Freedom of speech?

        We have Canadian content laws in Canada as well.

        CanCon laws in no way impeed my freedom to say what I want, when I want. I can say that Stephen Harper is a fucking douche, whos anti-media policies would be right at home in North Korea. I have the freedom to walk right up to his house, knock on his door and say it to his face (if he answers his own door...)
        • by 2.7182 (819680)
          Can you have signs in English anywhere in Quebec ? (Business, private, whatever) An honest question - I am just wondering if it is an urban legend that you can't.
          • Re:RIGHT? (Score:5, Funny)

            by MrNaz (730548) * on Thursday April 10, 2008 @09:27PM (#23032140) Homepage
            You're American, aren't you? I'm Australia. Yes, I ride to work on a kangaroo.

            And yes, I've been asked that seriously by an American I once met while travelling.
            • by BootNinja (743040)

              It's cool Australia, I live in Texas and when I went to Disneyland on a band trip 10 years ago, I was constantly asked by floridians about my horse.

              So I just ran with it and told elaborate stories about mucking out the school stables, my great aunt ethel who lost a finger feeding her horse, and how my dad got run over by a steer.

          • Re:RIGHT? (Score:4, Informative)

            by B5_geek (638928) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @09:43PM (#23032234)
            Not an urban legend.

            Quebec has the most draconian laws of any communist country.

            Sure you have freedom of speech, but it must be in French.

            Take our most famous "English-rights' lawsuit taht a Canadian company took to the Quebec government.

            Eaton's. (A very large upscale'ish Sears) Was forced to change their signs in Quebec from: "Eaton's" to "Eatons'"

            All because the former was an 'English' sign.

        • Actually, content laws have a lot to do with freedom of speach. More and more information is distributed on digital media, and if we build systems, technical or legal, to control such media they can be used for other things than making sure that recordcompanies get their "fair" share.
      • by 1u3hr (530656)
        No, there aren't many of what we would call rights in France. Freedom of Speech for example. They couldn't have a Led Zeppelin day on the radio for example, since a fixed percentage of the music must be in French.

        Sacrebleu! Your right not to play any French music on publicly owned radio frequencies is sacred. Let them try to pry that from your cold dead hands.....

        Or you could just play a few French covers of Stairway to Heaven to make up the quota.

    • spare us the sarcasm (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nguy (1207026)
      The right to an internet account? So, France supplies every citizen with an account until they've had three strikes?

      You have a right to have an Internet account, just like you have a right to contract with people for other goods and services.

      Taking that right away is a serious interference by the government in your personal rights, not to mention in the market. Taking that right away interferes with your ability to earn a living, participate in the political process, do banking, etc. It's not as serious a
  • Underground (Score:5, Informative)

    by WarJolt (990309) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @08:50PM (#23031916)
    Criminalizing file sharing will just drive it underground like the good old days. Whens the last time any of you sent files over IRC?

    Plus, it would be almost impossible to enforce a ban. There are already ways to increase anonymity and it's hard to block that kind of traffic.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Aetuneo (1130295)
      I'm not sure what your point is, but I download files from IRC bots all the time. It's the only way to get some subtitled anime, and it's almost always faster.
      • by WarJolt (990309)

        I'm not sure what your point is, but I download files from IRC bots all the time. It's the only way to get some subtitled anime, and it's almost always faster.
        You're the kind of guy who still uses a rotary phone. Still works don't it?
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by darthdavid (835069)
          Actually rotary phones don't work anymore in a lot of circumstances. You need a touchtone phone to use any kind of voicemail system.
    • by zappepcs (820751)
      Can we sign you up for a speaking tour in D.C. ? Huh? please? Someone needs to spend some time... well, a whole LOT of fucking time in D.C. writing this in soap on legislators car windows and stuff.

      While you are up there, can you stop in and see the gang of nine in the courthouse, perhaps explain these intartubewebtrucks to them?
    • by Baki (72515)
      It will also drive it out of the internet, but it won't go away. In times of terabyte harddrives, people will swap such disks, similar to the good old days when this was done with floppies.

      The spread will be slower, but broader. People won't be able to share and fetch a single file very fast, but instead they will wait longer and then share simply all music that has ever been produced in one go.

      Will the police and state forbid people to walk around with a harddrive in the future?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Plus, it would be almost impossible to enforce a ban.

      Well, I say... I am sitting not 100M (about 300feet for you Americans) from a free public wireless access point. From my desk I can see at least another 5 with weak or no security.

      There is wireless Internet available free for all at the restaurant I eat at down the road. There's free wireless at my local library. You don't have to join the library or ask for any kind of permission to use it.

      There are two access points near my house with the same default SSID and no encryption with fairly huge pipes be

  • I have to ask (Score:5, Insightful)

    by causality (777677) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @08:58PM (#23031958)
    Regardless of what France does, When I see that the EU generally doesn't just cave in anytime a corporation wants to use their government to further its own interests, my first thought is: Did someone steal the balls of every American politician and ship them overseas or something? It would explain quite a bit...
    • Re:I have to ask (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sticks_us (150624) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @09:11PM (#23032030) Homepage
      Did someone steal the balls of every American politician and ship them overseas or something?

      Not quite. I believe the balls were probably sold to a large international corp. through a complicated but effective purchase (or maybe a rent-to-own) program.

      That's not to say the EU gets off the hook, the fact this thing even came to a vote (narrowly losing 314-297) means its only a matter of time until it, or a more convoluted version of it, passes.
    • by mrsteveman1 (1010381) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @09:43PM (#23032226)
      It's an international ball market, get used to it
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PitaBred (632671)
      Balls? Who needs balls when you're in a corporation's pocket? "ideals" and "ethics" are for poor people.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Regardless of what France does, When I see that the EU generally doesn't just cave in anytime a corporation wants to use their government to further its own interests
      If eight votes went the other way, the outcome would have been completely different. Clearly there is no 'united' thought about this plan in Europe.
    • Re:I have to ask (Score:5, Informative)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Friday April 11, 2008 @12:11AM (#23033006) Homepage Journal
      Let's not develop the false impression that everything is great in the EU. We (I live in the EU), too, have bad laws, and a patent office that has granted software patents. Here, too, there are fear of the terrorists, discrimination against muslims and foreigners (even from other EU countries), security theater, governments that block investigations of possible mishaps, unreliable voting machines, religious fanaticism, the works.

      Not that life is downright terrible in the EU, but we need to keep our eyes open, promote what is good, and correct what is wrong. Sure, I guess it's fun to laugh at Americans who can't spell their own language right, think Holland is the capital of Amsterdam, and are being spied on by their own government, but then, I know there are plenty of people in my country who can't spell their own language right, have absolutely no idea where Minnesota is, and are spied on by their government even more.
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      It is more that the EU parliament has very few power compared to national parliament. So lobbying is less active at the European level and more active at the national level. Olivenne, author of France's anti-piracy proposition for instance, is the CEO of Fnac, a CD and book reseller (a local concurrent of Virgin Megastores)
  • by Pig Hogger (10379) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `reggoh.gip'> on Thursday April 10, 2008 @09:06PM (#23032002) Journal
    Outlawing file sharing is like outlawing jaywalking. You can do it, but it certainly won't stop people from doing it. It may be enforced at first, but since people don't think it's shaking the very foundations of the Universe, they think nothing of doing it, everybody but a little bunch of anal jerks ends up doing it, and it's not enforced anymore.
    • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday April 10, 2008 @10:03PM (#23032340) Homepage Journal

      Outlawing file sharing is like outlawing jaywalking.
      I agree but for different reasons. Both are a case of government ruling over people instead of representing them. People *want* to jaywalk.. they want to get from one side of the road to the other by the shortest possible route and they're willing to dodge traffic to do it. Who the hell are you to say they cant? The majority? No, we all jaywalk. So where is this authority coming from? No-where! And that's why jaywalking laws are bullshit and shouldn't even exist, let alone be enforced. Same goes for file sharing. I think we've all made it abundantly clear that we want to share files and most of us, the majority of us, don't give care about any laws we may be breaking whilst doing it.

      • by Rakishi (759894) on Friday April 11, 2008 @12:13AM (#23033016)

        Who the hell are you to say they cant? The majority? No, we all jaywalk. So where is this authority coming from? No-where!
        How about all the people who actually want to drive instead of playing "dodge the stupid jaywalker." You want to jaywalk, sure thing as long as certain conditions are met. These would include such things as drivers having total immunity, criminal and civil, if they hit someone crossing in a non-designated place. Likewise the jaywalker (or his estate) would be required to pay any and all costs that result including cost to the driver who hit them (such as lost time) and estimated costs to society from the resulting traffic jam.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by QuantumG (50515) *

          How about all the people who actually want to drive instead of playing "dodge the stupid jaywalker."
          They want to jaywalk too.. just ask em.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Rakishi (759894)
            Well I'm a driver and I fully support anti-jaywalking laws, your point being. The only time I jaywalk is on small streets with no traffic at all but even then it's not like I'd be bothered much if I couldn't.

            Even in NYC, the city with probably the most jaywalkers and flattened jaywalkers in the US, only 56% of people opposed stricter enforcement of jaywalking laws. I'm sure most places can easily get that extra 8% that's needed for the majority of people to support such laws (or enforcement of said laws).
            • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Friday April 11, 2008 @01:12AM (#23033260) Homepage Journal
              Here's how you do your survey:

              "Hey motorist, do you think we should have stricter jaywalking laws?"
              "Damn straight kid, I'm sick of all these idiots getting in front of my car."

              Here's how to see if the people want it or not:

              "Hey pedestrian, you just jaywalked, here's a $200 fine, and if I catch you again it's off to jail!"
              "You're fucking kidding me right copper? Here's what I think of your ticket." [rip] [rip]

              And if I need to explain this to you then frankly I doubt that you ever get out of your car.
              • by Rakishi (759894)

                Here's how to see if the people want it or not:

                "Hey pedestrian, you just jaywalked, here's a $200 fine, and if I catch you again it's off to jail!"
                "You're fucking kidding me right copper? Here's what I think of your ticket." [rip] [rip]

                Well then you won't mind if I shoot you dead right? After all since most murders would claim being prosecuted for murder is wrong by your logic murders should be perfectly legal.

                Like I said, in NYC a proper survey found that a large amount of people have no trouble with fines for jaywalking. They probably have this amazing thing called self-control with which they're able to stop jaywalking, or never do it to begin with, if it becomes illegal. They're also able to realize that the extra time they spend wal

                • by QuantumG (50515) *
                  I don't know how much more plainly I can make this.

                  Everyone jaywalks. You said yourself that you jaywalk. There isn't anyone under the age of 15 who hasn't jaywalked.

                  If you think laws against jaywalking are not unjust then you are, quite simply, a fascist.

                  End of discussion. Go away now.

                  • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                    by Rakishi (759894)

                    Everyone jaywalks. You said yourself that you jaywalk. There isn't anyone under the age of 15 who hasn't jaywalked.

                    That most people have done it does not mean that most people oppose making it illegal. I for example don't. Likewise making something illegal does not mean it will always be prosecuted and exceptions can be put into the law itself.

                    If you think laws against jaywalking are not unjust then you are, quite simply, a fascist.

                    No that's what you think, I simply find the trade-off worth it. Given how such laws exist in most of the US and how they are enforced in many place it seems most people agree with me. If they didn't agree then like in NYC (where the opposition only had a small majority) any effo

    • by Baki (72515)
      The state could lock up everybody doing it, or at least ruin them financially (which will in the long term also result in locking them up). But with 1% of US population already behind bars, who is going to pay for locking all file sharers up, and who pays for the economical damage of financially ruining a large amount of people?

  • by bug1 (96678) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @09:08PM (#23032012)
    So if a corporation gets caught violating copyright three times, does corporation get banned from the internet, or is it yet another case where corporations get a free ride ?

    Who was it that said that "a corporation has a body but no soul" ?
    • Who said? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You just did, obviously.

      But, I believe Lord Thurlow also said: "It has no body to kick and no soul to damn."
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@l y n x . b c .ca> on Thursday April 10, 2008 @09:08PM (#23032016) Journal

    Let's say somebody who isn't a big name copyrights a particular work and starts to sell it, and let's say that a big publishing firm sees as a potential threat. What the bigger publishing firm could do is snatch the work and start distributing it (at no cost) online themselves, using their own fatter distribution pipe for the purpose, and effectively locking the smaller publisher out of benefiting from their own work.

    This sort of scenario has implications on GNU software also... if file sharing of copyrighted material without permission wasn't criminal, somebody could take some GNU software and make changes and release those changes under whatever terms they wanted via filesharing, since copyright infringement wouldn't apply to them in that case.

    I am perpetually amazed at how supposedly intelligent people cannot see that sharing copyrighted files without permission of the author not being copyright infringement is a contradiction in terms.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by alexhard (778254)
      Hi, you seem to not have noticed the words "private individuals". Yes, they could release the software via filesharing, but then it would still be free (as in beer, not as in freedom obviously, but it doesn't make any difference..nobody from it except the end user who gets something for nothing). If, on the other hand, you start a business and sell that modified GNU software, which actually is a big deal, it stops being a private matter and you should (and will) be prosecuted for it.
      • by mark-t (151149)
        Sure it would be free, but permitting it could effectively lock out a copyright holder from being able to benefit from distribution of the work. And I certainly wasn't suggesting a company's trying to sell modified GNU software, I was suggesting that they simply change it and releasing those changes under a closed-source license, perhaps for the sole benefit of raising the visibility of their own company, so that they profit indirectly because they may have other software that _is_ commercial. This can
    • by Mr2001 (90979) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @09:29PM (#23032152) Homepage Journal

      What the bigger publishing firm could do is snatch the work and start distributing it (at no cost) online themselves [...]
      if file sharing of copyrighted material without permission wasn't criminal, somebody could take some GNU software and make changes and release those changes under whatever terms they wanted via filesharing
      You seem to have misunderstood the difference between criminal and civil law. "Criminalizing" something means making it a crime, the sort of thing that the police can arrest you for without anyone having to sue you first.

      Copyright infringement is still a civil tort, and even though you won't be hauled off in handcuffs for trading songs, you can still be sued for it.

      The fact that the EU decided not to criminalize file sharing doesn't mean they legalized it.

      And by the way, since you brought up the GPL... those of us who are opposed to copyright in general (I don't believe infringement should be a crime or a civil tort) tend to believe that the main effect of the GPL is to give back the rights that copyright law takes away. If anyone could distribute any software without anyone else's permission, would it really matter if some of them didn't include the source code? RMS says yes, but I say no.
      • by drsmithy (35869)

        If anyone could distribute any software without anyone else's permission, would it really matter if some of them didn't include the source code? RMS says yes, but I say no.

        That's because your objective is free software, but RMS's objective "Free" software.

        • by Mr2001 (90979)
          I don't know about that. I believe in Free software too... I just don't think requiring everyone to distribute source code is a necessary part of it. I think it's sufficient to let end users redistribute the proprietary version and reverse-engineer any proprietary changes.

          RMS wants it to be convenient to modify and redistribute software. I don't mind if it's merely feasible.
    • by evanbd (210358)
      In what way is a civil penalty insufficient to stop the scenario you describe? It's worked well enough in the past, hasn't it? (Well, if anything, it gets overzealous.)
      • by mark-t (151149)
        The biggest problem I find with civil penalty is that it can often be inadequate to act as a genuine deterrent.
        • by Mr2001 (90979) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @10:43PM (#23032620) Homepage Journal
          Multi-thousand dollar fines for sharing a handful of songs are "inadequate"? You must be joking.

          Increasing the penalties won't help, because the risk of incurring that penalty is still exceedingly small. The average file sharer is more likely to die in an accidental fall than to be caught infringing.
          • by mark-t (151149)

            Multi-thousand dollar fines for sharing a handful of songs are "inadequate"?
            Evidently, since people still do it.

            But I was considering the cases where the infringer has _more_ money than the person being damaged.

            • by Mr2001 (90979)

              Evidently, since people still do it.
              People still commit every crime. If your definition of an "adequate" penalty is one that's completely effective as a deterrent, then there is no such thing.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by drsmithy (35869)

          The biggest problem I find with civil penalty is that it can often be inadequate to act as a genuine deterrent.

          If a law requires a severe punishment to deter people from breaking it, then it's probably a bad law.

    • by Hemogoblin (982564) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @09:48PM (#23032260)
      There are many things that aren't "criminal", but are still illegal. For example, you can be punished if you break a contract, or if you perform a tort. That's what copyright infringement should fall under: tort law. Not some stupid criminal law with mandatory sentencing and fines.
      • by QuantumG (50515) *

        There are many things that aren't "criminal", but are still illegal.
        Not according to the legal definition of "illegal".. I think you might be after "unlawful".

        • Perhaps. I'm not a lawyer :) Oh, and incase someone points it out, I am aware that France does not use the Common Law system. I'm only using those terms because that's what I'm familiar with, considering I'm from Canada.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by orlanz (882574)
      First, "file sharing of copyrighted material without permission" is illegal in most contexts, the proper term is copyright infringement. You "infringe" on the copyright owned by an entity. Don't let the term fool you, it is extremely bad to commit. Per the punishment, it is far worse than stealing; thou per the law, it isn't.

      Which brings us to the point. I am not sure how it is in the EU, but in the US, "crime" is a very strong word. It is where murder, rape, fraud, and theft sit and ponder all day. I
      • by mark-t (151149)

        You seem to presume that in the case of copyright infringement, only the person whose copyright was infringed was damaged. This is *NOT* the case.

        Unchecked copyright infringement, even if only against one company, weakens the value of copyright, as a whole... since future publishers see that copyright may be inadequate to protect their work from being copied.

        It is because of this "global" damage, that copyright infringement should be handled by criminal law, and not merely left as a civil matter.

        • by Mr2001 (90979)

          Unchecked copyright infringement, even if only against one company, weakens the value of copyright, as a whole... since future publishers see that copyright may be inadequate to protect their work from being copied.

          The smart publishers already saw that the minute they first learned what copyright is. The idea that a law could actually be effective at restricting the flow of information from one individual who wants to share it to another who wants to receive it is absurd on its face.

          Copyright is inadequate to prevent any works from being copied, and the sooner we realize that as a society and shift to a model that doesn't need to prevent copying, the better off we'll be.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by mark-t (151149)
            Sure.... if you can come up with some way of giving people an incentive to produce new works and receive due recognition for them without somebody else of possibly higher profile coming along and getting all the credit. Currently, that's what copyright does right now.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          If you want to move copyright infringement to covered under criminal law it should be removed from being a civil matter at the same time (so you can't be had twice) and any fines collected go to the government not the copyright owner. No statutory damages to the copyright owner, just a criminal prosecution. I bet you no-one or very few people get prosecuted though if that ever happens.
  • Although it's nice to see this, it was just a tad closer than I would like to see.

    Kinda makes you wonder if ANY of our Western governments have the interests of their people in mind, in the least.
  • by pclminion (145572) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @10:57PM (#23032694)
    Define "Internet account." As in, your name is on the bill from some ISP somewhere? Are these people aware that you don't actually have to have an "account" to use the Internet?
  • by kylehase (982334) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:16PM (#23032792)
    European ISPs encounter rolling service disruptions due to unusually high traffic.
  • Title: Europe Rejects Plan To Criminalize File-Sharing

    Really?? They were going to ciminalize file sharing?? That would have been SOOO sweet. You see at work they are alway sending me these crappy PowerPoint files about production goals. Oh man if only I could have turned them in for file sharing!!

    I'm guessing they were talking more about "stealing songs", but I mean aren't there already laws against copyright infringment? Why would you need a second law for the exact same thing?
    • I'm guessing they were talking more about "stealing songs", but I mean aren't there already laws against copyright infringment? Why would you need a second law for the exact same thing?

      Stealing songs is already a crime: if you walk into a store, take a heap of CDs, and walk out with them without paying, you can be arrested. Copyright infringement isn't a crime: if you walk into a store, copy the heap of CDs, and walk out with the copies without paying, you can't be arrested. It's to do with one being thef

  • Inacurate article? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by KinkyClown (574788)
    FTA:

    The European Parliament rejected attempts to criminalize the sharing of files by private individuals and threw out the idea of banning copyright abusers from the Internet, in a plenary vote Thursday.
    I hope the article is not accurate but if I am reading this it states NOTHING on sharing public domain/freeware/private software; meaning enforcing this new law (if it was to be accepted) meant I was braking the law if I where share my own pictures!
  • It's actually worrying to see that such extreme measures are even being considered, in the present and future world access to the internet is as necessary as access to electricity or water, how can the record industry make politicians even consider depriving people of such a vital mean for communication and access to information.

    Imagine telling your son that he cannot have a connection at home to do some research for school and educate himself because the government banned his parents in order to protect
  • Does that mean that the recently proposed UK law [bbc.co.uk] to ban file-sharers from having Internet access (which I thought mentioned three strikes, although I can't find the article) won't be going through? Does that mean that for once the EU may have made a sensible legal decision that will override our UK laws?

    I'm shocked...
  • They only need to change 8 votes out of 314 in order to get the opposite result. If this really were an obstacle, it would be one that lobbyists could easily overcome, with both carrots and sticks.

    Also keep in mind that th MEPs apparently have fairly little power; their vote was advisory. If the appointed council decides to pass this anyway. Given how powerful France is and that Germany also has a bunch of big media moguls and is in love with having the government keep order, they may make this a law any

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