The Dutch Introduce New Downloader-Friendly Piracy Law

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Instead of banning illegal downloads with a three-strikes rule, as France has done, the Netherlands will levy a “private copy fee” on the sale of all electronic devices.

BERLIN - The Netherlands again proved itself to be the most online-friendly nation in Europe after the Dutch Parliament dropped plans to ban illegal downloading. Instead, Dutch lawmakers choose to levy a so-called “private copy fee” on all electronic devices sold in the country.

The new law means the Dutch will not go down the more punitive road taken by countries such as France, which have imposed “three strikes” laws that force ISPs to block Internet access to users found guilty of illegal downloading.

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The Netherlands already has a similar private copy levy on blank media, such as writable CDs and DVDs. The new law will extend the private copy tax to all electronic devices sold in the Netherlands, including laptops, PCs, smart phones, hard drives and personal video recorders. Dutch rights holders estimated the new tax could initially bring in around $80 million (€60 million) to compensate for revenues lost through piracy.

But the move could face opposition from equipment manufacturers who may challenge the new law in court.

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