ENDitorial: Belgian music industry acts to undermine copyright law

By EDRi · October 19, 2011

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Deutsch: [ENDitorial: Belgische Musikindustrie versucht Urheberrecht zu untergraben | www.unwatched.org/EDRigram_9.20_ENDitorial_Belgische_Musikindustrie_versucht_Urheberrecht_zu_untergraben?pk_campaign=edri&pk_kwd=20111028]

We have all heard the music industry make claims about the vast amount of
“piracy” going on, such as the estimation that from 2008 to 2015, the music
industry was going to lose an amount equivalent to the combined national
debt of Greece and Italy. The ever-impartial European Commission has been
similarly apocalyptic in its analysis of the situation – describing illegal
filesharing as “ubiquitous” in its report on application of the IPR
Enforcement Directive. The question is, under such circumstances where any
law has lost its legitimacy to such an extent that breaches are
“ubiquitous,” when losses are allegedly more than what entire countries
produce in a whole year, what is the one thing that must be avoided at all
costs? One must avoid robbing the law of any residual credibility that it
still has.

After being caught by a TV station trying to obtain royalties for the music
apparently produced by noodles, sauces, foodmixers and hygiene products,
Sabam, the Belgian collecting society, decided to put the blame where it
clearly belongs – the Internet. Despite the fact that it is well known that
DNS blocking does not work, despite the fact that The Pirate Bay reported an
increase in traffic from Denmark when DNS blocking was proposed there, Sabam
decided to waste the Belgian courts’ time and Belgian taxpayers’ money with
a demand that thepiratebay.org and a number of related domains be blocked by
the two largest Internet access providers in Belgium. The request was
granted by the Court in Antwerp.

A few hours after the court, in full awareness of the futility of the order,
made this decision, Belgian “pirates” created depiraatbaai.be in order to
circumvent the blocking order. The new domain name allows users to reach The
Pirate Bay via an indirect and unblocked route. Unsurprisingly, the
ridiculous ease with which the ruling was exposed as nonsense attracted a
huge amount of publicity – serving both to make the law and law-makers look
absurd and maximise awareness of opportunities for unauthorised access to
copyrighted material online.

Legitimacy of laws cannot ever be imposed by repressive measures. Legitimacy
most certainly cannot be imposed by repressive measures which are comically
ineffective. As long as the Internet retains the characteristics which are
the basis of its success – openness and resilience – content cannot be
definitively blocked. It is time to abandon measures that place creators and
users in opposition to each other, time to abandon policies that serve only
to illustrate the lack of understanding of the Internet by certain parts of
industry and politicians and time to build a legal framework that earns
respect and facilitates creation.

IFPI losses 2008-2015 (20.01.2011)

National debts (7.04.2011)

List of National Debt by Country

European Commission IPRED implementation report (22.12.2010)

SABAM’s questionable royalty claims (09.02.2011)

Sabam Video

(contribution by Joe McNamee – EDRi)