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Dutch MPs reject ban on illegal downloads

05:43 Sat Dec 22 2012
AAP

Dutch MPs have voted not to ban illegal internet downloads of copyrighted films, music and software, preferring to levy a tax on smartphones and computers.

"The motion calling on the government to renounce banning illegal downloads was passed," on Thursday evening, lower house spokesman Leon van Schie said on Friday.

Instead, copyright holder losses will be compensated for with a "home copy" tax on new electronic products including smartphones, computers, hard drives and tablets.

The tax to be introduced on January 1 will range from five euros (almost $A7) for a computer to one euro for a hard drive.

"We're pleased with the vote on broadening the 'copy tax', Tim Kuik of the Brein foundation that defends copyright owners in the Netherlands said.

He declined to comment on the refusal to ban illegal downloading.

In theory the government could still decide to push ahead with plans to ban illegal downloading but "that would go against what the majority in parliament, which would create a problem for the government," Van Schie said.

"The lower house has chosen vital copyright modernisation within the limits of everyone's freedom on the internet," the motion's author, MP Kees Verhoeven, was quoted as saying by public broadcaster NOS.

"Banning downloading doesn't really resolve the problem of illegal downloading and raises problems concerning the privacy of individual users," he said.

Governments around the world and Hollywood studios have struggled with how to deal with illegal downloads, often made using the BitTorrent protocol over websites such as The Pirate Bay.

France's controversial Hadopi law introduced in 2009 provides for fines and eventually a cutting off of the internet connection for illegal downloaders, sparking the ire of rights groups.