Up- And Downloads On The Internet – Prohibited Or Not?

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Books, music, or films – these copyrighted works are also available on the Internet. However, many consumers do not know what is permitted and prohibited.

Music is often no longer purchased as a CD, but by downloading or streaming through online providers such as iTunes and Spotify. Therefore, the copyright should be revised.

What do you do if a film from the USA that you would like to see is not yet available in Switzerland? Or the commercial platforms like iTunes don’t offer the movie? Many consumers in Switzerland therefore download music or films from the Internet.

Download Yes – Upload No

Downloading films from the Internet for personal use, for example, is not a punishable offence in Switzerland. The situation is different when uploading copyrighted works: Duplication outside the private sphere is not permitted. In brief, download yes – upload: No.

torrent-35656_1280However, this copyright principle is not well anchored among Swiss consumers: in a representative survey conducted on behalf of the Consumer Forum (KF), 17 percent of around 1000 respondents stated that uploading works and files is always legal. And the majority of two thirds (62 percent) believe that the upload is sometimes legal. Only 14 percent know it’s not legal and their only chance to get away with it is by making use of security measures like VPN and virtual machines.

From the point of view of Michel Rudin, Managing Director of the Consumer Forum, the survey shows that consumers urgently need to be informed about what is and is not permitted under copyright law. “Every child knows that you can’t steal in the shop,” says Rudin. However, there is a lack of information about what applies on the Internet: “The market situation has been known to people for thousands of years. The Internet has only been around for 20 years. Consumers are not yet sufficiently socialized by this new abstraction of the market”. Rudin calls for an information campaign on copyright. At the same time, however, he warns that one should not exaggerate: “Pop-up windows that are supposed to warn users go too far.

Law Revision Planned

The consumer forum survey is no coincidence. At present, Simonetta Sommaruga’s Department of Justice is bending over the revision of the Copyright Act. The aim of the partial revision is to adapt the law to the Internet age and – according to critics – ultimately also to recover lost profits of the large music groups from the USA. Since music has been bought, downloaded and listened to on the Internet, the industry’s high margins have collapsed. Copyright law should therefore tend to be tightened. The basic rule that downloading is generally permitted, but not uploading, should be adhered to.

The subject of the revision will therefore also be the controversial blank media levy. The FDP in particular has been calling for the abolition of this fee for some time. The Consumer Forum would also like this tax to be shown at least on the purchase receipt as compensation for private copies. It accumulates on all blank media (DVD, CD, etc.) as well as blank storage media such as MP3 players. According to the survey commissioned by the Consumer Forum, 60 percent of all respondents were unaware that this tax was being paid. Instead of tightening up copyright law, the consumer forum is therefore calling for better information for consumers.

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