Copyrighted films, books and music may not be downloaded in the Netherlands, but what exactly is it? We explain it in this article.
What is copyright?
The download issue is largely about copyright. Something made by someone must be protected so that others cannot get hold of it. Thanks to copyright, a maker (the author) always has the right to determine what happens to works that he or she has created.
The Copyright Act protects makers of "works of literature, science or art". This also includes films, series, music and books.
Are you allowed to share music or films (if you've already bought it)?
Work that is protected by copyright may not simply be copied and shared. It is also not allowed to link to illegal offers.
For personal use, a copy of films and music may be made, as long as you do not give it away, loan it or sell it. That is only allowed with the original copy. Games and software may not be copied at all.
Downloading was still permitted up to five years ago. At the time, that was seen as making a home copy.
"If you have a book that you want to read on an e-reader, you can create a pdf of that book," says BREIN director Tim Kuik. "But you can't download it illegally because you have the real book. That's something else. If you have a CD and you want the album on vinyl, then you'll have to buy it again."
The director compares this with photographing a painting in a museum. "You can take a picture of it, but the intellectual property belongs to the painter. It determines whether you can, for example, make a postcard out of it."
Are you allowed to download or stream films and series?
In addition to uploading, downloading copyrighted material is also prohibited. The BREIN foundation compares it with shoplifting. "You don't just take a book or music album from the store with you, do you? And in the cinema you pay for your ticket, don't you?"
Rightsholders suffer damage from illegal downloads, because this means less sales. This way, authors miss out on income.
There are now many legal streaming services such as Netflix, Spotify and Videoland. But there are also illegal streaming websites where you can listen to music and watch, for example, series and films. This is also prohibited.
According to BREIN, a copy is also made when streaming. "Even if that copy is temporary. It is only permitted if the source is legal."
What if you download protected material?
The BREIN foundation focuses primarily on providers and uploaders of illegal content. However, rightholders can also bring legal actions themselves. In the Netherlands, film distributor Dutch FilmWorks is busy tackling downloaders. In 2018, Dutch FilmWorks collected IP addresses from users who had downloaded The Hitman's Bodyguard film .
The company then approached the internet provider Ziggo to find out which people are behind the addresses and then to be able to send these Ziggo customers a settlement proposal. Dutch FilmWorks planned to have downloaders pay a settlement amount of 150 euros to prevent a lawsuit.
However, Ziggo does not yet want to share names, addresses and places of residence. A court decided at the beginning of this year that Dutch FilmWorks should better substantiate what the film distributor wants to do with the data. Only when that is clear, Ziggo may be forced to provide information. The appeal is still pending.
What happens if you put illegal material online anyway?
The BREIN foundation tries to stop providers. "We are looking for sites and groups where illegal content is being uploaded," says Kuik. "We find out who is behind it or who the intermediaries are. First we talk to those people and say:" We have proof that you do this, stop it. " The provider can then settle, for example, so that there is no legal case. "
The amount depends on several things. "For example, we look at the infringement, but also at how much money someone has. It makes no sense to impose a huge settlement amount on someone if they cannot afford it at all." Objecting is possible, but according to Kuik that is not smart. "We only do this if we really know for sure. So it only gets more expensive."
BREIN also looks at the findability of illegal offers. "Google must ensure that there are no illegal sources," says Kuik. "The majority in search engines only look at the first three results, so at least they should not be there."
BREIN does not think that illegal downloading can be stopped completely. The goal is therefore to make it so difficult that most people go to legal sources.
Is a streaming box with a cheap subscription allowed?
IPTV subscriptions were introduced as a "solution" for illegal downloading. Often these are cheap cabinets on the TV, which give users access to many pay channels for 10 or 15 euros per month.
This is also incorrect, writes BREIN. "Pay channels often cost 10 euros separately. Then you know what time it is. Streaming from an illegal source is - just like downloading - not allowed and therefore punishable."
"People see it as things, then it's easy," says Kuik. "It is one thing and therefore not personal, but the content is made by people. It has been worked on by a writer, a publisher and many more people. If you download illegally, it is stealing, because those people live off the proceeds This is about working and getting paid for it. "
"If it's free, people always come up with something," says the BREIN director. "When there was no legal offer, you heard a lot of people about it. Now there is a lot of offer and that is no longer an excuse. And if you do come up with an excuse, you run into something and you get a fine. you are aware of the impact of illegal acts. "