MEP tells record labels to leave illegal downloaders alone

10 Feb 2010

An MEP has told the EU that record labels that crack down on small-time illegal downloaders, like a 15-year-old putting music on a phone, are directing their energies at the wrong people.

MEP Alan Kelly told the EU Internal Market Committee that individuals who download music and films illegally on a small scale should not be subject to sanctions.

Speaking on the future digital agenda for the EU, he said, “Individuals who carry out a small level of downloading of illegal material should not be the subject of any legal sanctions.

“There are many reasons for this. Firstly, it would be like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

“Secondly, with the way digital content is being syndicated, there are many users who are not even aware that they are doing anything illegal in the first place and it’s questionable even if they are.”

Kelly said that instead the industry and authorities must focus their resources on punishing the pirate providers of pirated copyright material, such as music and films.

“We want our legislation to prevent people from exploiting this on a commercial basis, the types of people who store warehouses full of DVDs distributed illegally from internet downloads.

“These people should be subject to the full rigours of our legal system.

“However, it makes no sense for the EU to bring in legislation that criminalises a 15-year-old for putting a ring tone or a song on their phone.

“Our response must be focused, targeted and proportionate to the crime.

“However, we must be fair, also, as it is necessary to protect artists and authors from having their material pirated on a mass level as they should earn any money from their ideas and labour.

“We are already making progress in Ireland on these matters. We are doing so at a faster pace than most other EU countries through the co-operation of the ISPs and IMRO,” Kelly said.

By John Kennedy

Photo: MEP Alan Kelly has told the EU Internal Market Committee that efforts should be focused on punishing the pirate providers of pirated copyright material

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years