It’s a busy week for news relating to music piracy, so we thought we’d bundle some stories together as a snapshot of what’s happening around the world.
Starting with Kim Dotcom, and news that music industry body the RIAA is suing MegaUpload in a civil lawsuit that will run alongside a similar suit from movie body the MPAA, not to mention the existing criminal case that saw the service’s founder arrested and the site shut down in January 2012.
The RIAA says its case is based on specific evidence from the criminal proceedings “that we reviewed and found to be compelling enough to bring a civil suit since it made clear that massive copyright infringement of music had taken place”.
Dotcom’s attorney Ira Rothken was characteristically unfazed: “Our first response is that the RIAA, the MPAA, and the DOJ are like three blind mice following each other in the pursuit of meritless copyright claims.”
He also returned to previous claims that these actions have an impact beyond MegaUpload and similar services. “We believe that the claims against Megaupload are really an assault by Hollywood on cloud storage in general as Megaupload used copyright neutral technology and whatever allegations they can make against Megaupload they can make against YouTube, Dropbox, and others.”
Such claims are likely to be one of the most intriguing aspects of all three cases, if and when they reach court.
Elsewhere in the world – the Netherlands specifically – headlines are being made by a ruling in the European Court of Justice that Dutch laws – stipulating that downloading copyrighted content for free for personal use is not a criminal act – are themselves unlawful.
“If Member States were free to adopt legislation permitting, inter alia, reproductions for private use to be made from an unlawful source, the result of that would clearly be detrimental to the proper functioning of the internal market,” noted the Court, after a case brought by technology firms and retailers unhappy at a levy on hardware to make up for any piracy losses.
“The objective of proper support for the dissemination of culture may not be achieved by sacrificing strict protection of copyright or by tolerating illegal forms of distribution of counterfeited or pirated works.”
Over to Spain, a country where rightsholders have been racking their brains over piracy for some time. Another court ruling spelled bad news for rightsholders this week, as labels lost an appeal against a previous ruling in favour of MP2P Technologies, a company that made filesharing software Blubster. The ruling claims that the software’s “activity is not only neutral, and perfectly legal, moreover it is protected by article 38 of our Constitution”.
The decision was published alongside a new report commissioned by a group of music, film, book and games companies that claimed 84% of content consumed in Spain is now pirated, and that more than half of Spanish internet users are downloading illegally – including 28% who admit to pirating music regularly.
Watch the clash between the creative industries and the current Spanish government though: the latter described the new report as a “rough opinion study commissioned by interested parties” according to Billboard.