Current copyright restrictions forcing people to pirate, says the EU
The European Commission's Vice-President for the Digital Single Market believes that current copyright laws are pushing users to "steal".
Andrus Ansip, interviewed during Midem (an annual event for the music industry), says that current copyright restrictions that makes legal content hard to obtain is inadvertently forcing people to seek the same content from illegal sources. And Ansip says that that widespread use of geo-blocking in EU countries is one of the main problems facing the EU's plans to make copyright laws fairer.
Unveiled last month, the EU's Digital Single Market strategy aims to end the fragmentation found within the EU when it comes to digital content. Often, content purchased in one EU country cannot be used in another, even though the two countries share the same currency and has open borders.
It is this discrepancy in an otherwise united Europe that Ansip says is making the piracy problem worse.
"Today, the four basic freedoms in the EU – free movement of people, goods, services, capital – it’s a reality in a physical [world] but it’s not reality in the online world," Ansip said.
"I don’t think people here in this room or elsewhere have to be worried. Today, I would like to enjoy [film] masterpieces created by creators. I am ready to pay but because of copyright restrictions, because of geo-blocking, they are not accepting my money."
And Ansip believes that by making available legal services with "better quality", people will naturally do the right thing because people "prefer to act as honest people" and that "they don't want to steal".
Ansip then provided data to back up his assertions, specifically mentioning Norway's piracy miracle (in which music piracy rates went from 80% to 4%, thanks to the introduction of services like Spotify), or similar findings in Australia following Spotify's debut.
The alternative of prosecuting downloaders, Ansip says, is simply unworkable. Citing a study that found 68% of film viewers in the EU downloaded illegally, Ansip explains that "to put 68% of people in jail is not really a good idea."
"The European Commission wants to protect the rights of creators but first we have to provide legal access to digital content to all people. Then it will be more fruitful to tackle piracy," concluded Ansip.