26.03.06 - German Anti-Filesharing Laws (Follow up)
I highlighted what seems to be the key measure here, but still this is totally disproporinate to the crime, and I would revoice my previous comments about writing to your mp, they are quite clearly not representing your interests.
GERMANS risk two years in prison if they illegally download films and music for private use under a new law agreed yesterday. Anybody who downloads films for commercial use could be jailed for up to five years.
The measures, some of the toughest in Europe, were announced after an aggressive campaign by the film industry in Germany, the largest market in the EU and one of the most computer-literate populations.
According to film industry estimates, Germans download more than 20 million films a year. Many expect the next James Bond film, Casino Royale, to be widely available in Germany weeks before its official release in November.
The law, which comes into effect on January 1, 2007, has infuriated consumer groups. They claim that it will turn consumers into criminals and harm the Government’s efforts to create a knowledge-based economy.
Patrick von Braunmühl, of the Federation of German Consumer Organisations, said: “This sends a completely wrong signal to society. It criminalises consumers and will deeply disturb internet users.
“It can’t be that everyone has to be worried now about the police knocking on the door and impounding the family computer because their 16-year-old son has downloaded a few songs.”
Brigitte Zypries, the Justice Minister, defended the law. “The aim is not now to slap handcuffs on downloaders in the school playground,” she said. But if someone downloaded a film before it reached the cinemas it was obvious that they were responding to an illegal offer and breaking the law, she said. Frau Zypries has ruled that it will still be legal to copy a legitimately bought DVD for limited private use.
Günther Krings, the Christian Democrat legal affairs spokesman, said: “There should be no legal distinction between stealing chewing gum from a shop and performing an illegal download.”
Enforcement will be left to the state prosecutor. Authorities hunting internet pirates will be able to pass on details to film and music producers who can then inform the police.
Many Germans watch the latest Hollywood film at home before it has reached the cinemas; parents’ evenings sometimes end with a showing of an illegally copied film in the school gym.
The German music industry also claims to be suffering from piracy. The recording industry suffered a fall in turnover in 2005 for the seventh year in a row to €1.7 billion (£1.2 billion). Sales have fallen almost 45 per cent since 1998. The German branch of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry estimates that the equivalent of 439 million music CDs were copied illegally in Germany last year.
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