Switzerland Questions Crazy Hollywood Claims About File Sharing... Ends Up On Congressional Watchlist (Techdirt)
Tuesday September 25th, 2012
Last December, we wrote about a report put out by the Swiss executive branch noting that, based on their research, it appeared that unauthorized file sharing was not a big deal, showing that consumers were still spending just as much on entertainment, and that much of it was going directly to artists, rather than to middlemen. In other words, it was a market shift, not a big law enforcement problem. At the time, we wondered if Switzerland had just bought itself a place on the USTR's "Special 301 list" that the administration uses each year to shame countries that Hollywood doesn't like.
That list doesn't come out for a bit, but there's another, similar list, put out by the Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus (yeah) that has added Switzerland to its "bad countries" list along with China, Russia and Ukraine. Italy also joined Switzerland as a "first-timer" on the list -- despite rulings that required ISPs to block access to various file sharing sites. The issue in Italy? I'd guess that a story we had earlier this year has something to do with it. After some political fighting, the government there basically decided to just stop regulating copyright issues online. There's also an upcoming fight about new copyright proposals coming in Italy, and this seems like a preemptive strike for some of Hollywood's favorite Congressional Reps and Senators to pressure Italy into approving bad laws that Hollywood likes.
Meanwhile, both Spain and Canada -- who passed legislation very much at the behest of American interests -- were removed from the evil part of the list and switched to "in transition." The message is not particularly subtle: do not, at any cost, question Hollywood's planned copyright laws, or the US government will shame you as a haven for pirates, no matter how bogus that claim really is. Hopefully governments in Switzerland and Italy resist such obvious lobbying on behalf of special interests and pay attention to reality in those markets.