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27th May 2019

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Netherlands looking to French-style crack-down on internet piracy

In the wake of France's imposition of its controversial three-strikes legislation aiming to crush internet piracy, the Dutch parliament has called on the government to also deal harshly with offenders.

A cross-party commission investigating the subject of downloading copyright content without permission found that such behaviour is rampant amongst young people.

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  • Dutch MPs want parents to be held responsible for their children's downloading (Photo: Lee Jordan)

The commission, bringing together MPs from the ruling Christian Democrats, their Labour Party coalition partners, the conservative VVD and the far-left Socialists, issued a report on Thursday (18 June) that revealed that it has become a kind of sport to download films from the internet before they have even been released in movie theatres.

Currently in the Netherlands, only the uploading of such content to the internet is a punishable offence, but not downloading.

The MPs want the government to bring in new legislation to change that situation and calls on justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin and economy minister Maria van der Hoeven to crack down on internet piracy.

The report argues that parents should be held responsible for the downloading activity of their children.

Campaigners against the French three strikes bill fear that the country is inspiring copycat legislation elsewhere in Europe and attacked the Dutch MPs report.

"Governments must realise that the cost of repression exceeds by far the benefits and most of the time harms civil liberties," Jeremie Zimmerman of La Quadrature du Net, an internet freedom pressure group, told EUobserver in reaction to the release of the report.

"File-sharing is unstoppable anyway. The real question will be about how to use it to find new ways of funding creation. All conservative and repressive measures are bound to fail."

The commission's report also recommended that a new licensing framework be introduced in which music, films and video games could be downloaded for a fee.

The report also calls for the elimination of the levy imposed on CDs and DVDs within three years to reduce consumer prices.

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