Swiss Government Declares File-Sharing to be Legal

Some interesting news on the intellectual property front. As our country works toward intensifying the criminal prosecution of those found to be file-sharing (to the point of desiring the power to kill websites that post copyrighted content), Switzerland has defied the corporate Entertainment lobby and affirmed its earlier ruling that peer-to-peer downloading of copyrighted material for personal use is completely legal. The article goes on:

Despite the industry’s claims that downloading undermines their business, this study shows that the effect of unauthorized downloading on the industry’s bottom line is negligible. One key finding of the study is that downloaders spend as much if not more to acquire content legally as those who do not download. Researchers found no change in amount of disposable income spent on music and movies, despite the fact that roughly one third of Swiss people engage in some form of downloading. The government concluded, then, that no change to the current legal structure was necessary, and urged the entertainment industry to grow and adapt with the changes in technology and in consumer habits, rather than trying to suppress progress.

This is absolutely shocking for a number of reasons. First, that the Swiss government understands that the Entertainment industry is trying to suppress progress so that it is oriented to their favor at the cost of others, and that it called the industry out on it.Second, that they acknowledge (tacitly) that file-sharing is not stealing, but enriches culture and increases the loyalty and consumption of “legit” goods.  Third, that they did not back down under pressure from the giant Entertainment corporations to change their laws in the favor of the corporations.

That didn’t even happen in America. Since 1904 our copyright laws have been completely written by the corporations and passed by a submissive Congress. To have a government stand up to their pressures is encouraging in and of itself. But it is strange that on this issue the Swiss are tougher than America. Sort of weird to realize.

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