The Swiss government claims that file-sharing does not lose entertainment companies money
The Swiss government has ruled that downloading pirated music, movies and video games from the internet for personal use is to remain legal.
A report published by the Swiss Federal Council stated that copyright holders wouldn’t suffer because downloaders eventually spend the money saved on other entertainment products.
‘Adapt or Die’
As in other countries, the entertainment industry in Switzerland has been calling for stronger anti-piracy measures that would protect its interests, however the government has said that it believes that content producers are not losing money from piracy and that implementing such measures could be unethical.
The report states that one in three Swiss citizens over the age of 15 downloads pirated materials from the internet, but because the budgets they reserve for entertainment are fairly constant, downloading is complementary.
The government has called on companies to adapt or die to the current file-sharing climate and says that it sees no need to change the current law because downloading has so far not proved to negatively impact the production of Swiss culture.
Instead, it believes that file-sharing technology should be used in a positive manner as opposed to the repressive approach favoured by the entertainment companies.
“Every time a new media technology has been made available, it has always been ‘abused’”, said the report. “This is the price we pay for progress. Winners will be those who are able to use the new technology to their advantages and losers those who missed this development and continue to follow old business models.”
The high cost of anti-piracy policies of other countries has also been cited by the government, which has also questioned whether three strike policies are legal, as the UN’s Human Rights Council has ruled that internet access is a human right.
In the UK, several ISPs have been pressured into blocking file-sharing website Newz2bin but the Swiss government has opposed proposals to block file-sharing websites on the grounds of freedom of speech and has raised doubts over their effectiveness.
While downloading copyrighted content is not an offence, uploading continues to remain illegal. In January 2010, a woman from the canton of Ticino was given a suspended fine for illegally sharing 270 films and 4,200 songs but the Swiss high court has since ruled that IP addresses of file sharers cannot be shared, meaning that the law is almost impossible to enforce.
However, the estimated cost of implementing these anti-piracy measures is around £500m, or an additional £25 per year for each broadband connection, but the UK’s first file-sharing trial ended in an acquittal.