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back to article Swiss insist file-sharers don't hurt copyright holders

The Swiss government has ruled that downloading pirated copies of films, music and videogames for personal use will remain legal because it is of not detrimental to copyright owners. Last year, the Swiss Senate ordered an investigation into the impact downloading may have on society, in case further legislation was required on …

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Plus 10 points for Switzerland

Law based on actually studying a case properly rather than give in blindly to lobby groups! That is real old-school, man!

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there is apparently one sane country left in europe

Looks like the Swiss do not wish to turn into a police state, and criminalize everything just to make large international cartels happy.

Reminds me of Obama weighing in, saying he was fully behind the media mogul getting $230,000 per song from the parents of a 14 year old girl who shared ~24 songs a bunch of years ago.

Lets see, maybe if they sell their house, that will pay for one song. for the other 23 songs, the family will be wiped out financially for the rest of their collective lives. Given that this was a full 2 CD's worth, it sounds overly lenient, I think the girl is lucky they didn't cut of her hands as a warning.

Let me think what happens if a 14 year old actually steals 2 physical audio CD's at a store: 10 hours community service and a talking to by the local judge? Fines or fees: none.

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"Law based on actually studying a case properly rather than give in blindly to lobby groups!"

I know, it's incredible!

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Go Switzerland...

Might be a strange and quirky country, I know I lived there, but they do have some common sense and nice cheese.

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Anonymous Coward

love it...

Some sensible recommendations finally. Another plus for having left the nanny-state that the UK has become!

Totally agree with this, I'm a "casual p2per", and only download TV episodes that I've missed on Sky (reception out here isn't that good) - I frankly don't see how anyone is loosing money, I've paid for Sky! Any films I download (rarely), I always have either a DVD or BD for it (and only because I can't be bothered to rip to my NAS), if studios made available a copy at high-res, problem solved.

AC for obvious reasons.. :)

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Sensible ruling

Right to privacy lobby 1, Big media user behaviour controlling empire builders 0.

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My Word...

...is sanity finally breaking out?

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Convenient conclusion - for them

Very convenient for the Swiss, not exactly known for having a lot of music, film or other such content which citizens of other countries might wish to download. Now, of course, should any other country want to break any of their companies' many patents, they might take a different line. In the meantime they will carry on acting as a convenient location for many a despot's ill-gotten gains and facilitating wealthy tax evaders.

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Look I'm normally against this P2P blocking stuff

But I really don't like this argument. Is it ok for me to steal food if I still buy as much as I did before I stole?

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Anonymous Coward

It would be perfectly ok...

... if you could make an exact copy of food from the original food thus creating double the amount of food than existed previously.

In fact you'd probably win the Nobel prize.

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It doesn't work like that, and as such it's an invalid comparison.

If you steal food, you are depriving someone else of a physical good.

If you copy something, you are not depriving anyone else of a physical good. Therein lies the problem for the media companies: it's not like theft of a physical object has taken place, and a copy in no way diminishes the ability to share either...

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah, go ahead

Don't be silly! Of course it's fine to steal food if you're doing it without taking anything away from the original owner.

In fact, you should publish a paper on how you're doing that, I bet it would be worth a lot of money!

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Angel

Yes, as long as...

You manage to steal food AND live it where it was at the same time.

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Stop

infringment NOT theft

Please get your facts straight.

Copyright infringement is NOT theft. Theft is defined as depriving someone of an item, copyright infringement is making a copy without the permission of the creator/owner.

By claiming that downloading is theft you are showing that you are gullible and have been brainwashed by the media companies into thinking exactly what they want you to.

To claim that downloading a perfect digital COPY of a DVD/BD is theft is like saying that you are stealing the Mona Lisa if you download a high-res digital photo of it.

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Boffin

Apples and oranges

Not exactly a good comparison, since food is a consummable and entertainment content is not. The argument has been that piracy represents sales that would have happened if not for the illegal distribution. In truth, the response to that argument is essentially confirmed by the Swiss study, that is that there wouldn't be any additional sales if piracy was prevented.

I suspect the same holds true for non-entertainment content like Operating System and Office software, but there's obviously no hard data to back that up in the Swiss study.

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Anonymous Coward

You're equating copyright infringement with theft, and they are not the same thing (despite what rights-holders like to claim) .

If you steal something from a retailer, you're physically depriving them of something that they can't then sell to anyone else. This obviously doesn't apply to copyright infringement.

Assuming the evidence they've used is valid, I'm inclined to agree with the Swiss ruling - if the overall income to rights-holders remains the same, no-one is losing out, so why should anyone be punished?

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There's a difference

When you steal food, someone looses something. After you steal the food the store can not then sell it to someone else and has therefore lost a sale. That's not the case at all with filesharing.

When you download a song, there is nothing to prevent the producer from selling the same song to someone else. As study after study after study has show, the vast majority of file sharers would not (and truely, in most cases, could not) pay for the content that they download. So the sell to the pirate would never have happened anyway (and therefore is not lost) and the sell to a paying customer is not prevented (and therefore is not lost). Therefore, nothing is lost and the content owner is in no way harmed. The same holds true with pretty much every other form of frequently downloaded media. That's why filesharing is not theft. Which is not to say that it's not immoral - that's a seperate discussion (and one I suspect you and I would agree upon judging from your comment here). However laws should not be based upon morality. Morality is too subjective to make a foundation for law, unless you like the idea of laws preventing the sale of liquor on Sundays or bans on gay marriage (both the products of morality based law). Harm, however, is much more testable and verifiable and makes a much more firm basis for law.

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Facepalm

provided

you can think of a way of stealing food such that there is no less food left on the shelf for everyone else after you stole your portion, than I guess so.

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WTF?

No it's not OK to steal food. If you steal food, the money that the company would make are gone (you took the item with no option to make any money).

If you download movie, the movie that you don't buy...well someone else will....

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bad comparison

Food is a physical item in the world which actually costs a significant amount of resources to produce. Imagine you steal a side of beef - there is a substantial innate physical value in that side of beef, and you have denied it to someone else.

This does not at all pertain to the case of a single digital copy of some piece of data. By taking a copy of it you're hardly denying a copy to anyone else, and the actual cost involved in generating that copy is so small as to be unquantifiable.

You just can't compare the cases, *economically*.

Morally? Maybe. But the entertainment lobby tends to emphasize the supposed 'economic consequences of piracy', and that's the point this argument is concerned with.

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No, it isn't. But then that has got nothing to do with filesharing. You should instead ask 'is it ok to cook from recipes faxed to me from someone else's cookbook?'

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Pirate

Copy = Stealing?

Wow I never knew that.............................

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You live in cuckoo land

"As study after study after study has show, the vast majority of file sharers would not (and truely, in most cases, could not) pay for the content that they download. So the sell to the pirate would never have happened anyway (and therefore is not lost) and the sell to a paying customer is not prevented (and therefore is not lost). Therefore, nothing is lost and the content owner is in no way harmed."

So with that same mind set it is perfectly acceptable to steal a car from a dealers as you cannot afford one and you have no intentions of ever buying one but the dealer is ok as they would never have sold one to you in the first place. It is theft and it ALWAYS affects someone.

I don't like mars bars but i'll just pop down to the Mars factory and blag one as the factory would never have got me to buy one in the first place and its ok as they have an unlimited amount of them.

Were you one of the ones out rioting? If not, you missed out on that one as it was a free for all. Just like p2p.

I do not know what you do but I sincerely hope it does not end up online one day and becomes a downloadable commodity because if it does, your fecked, your boss is fecked and so are all his suppliers as long a people have the same mind set as your good self. It is theft and it always affects someone.

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You live in cuckoo land 2

"To claim that downloading a perfect digital COPY of a DVD/BD is theft is like saying that you are stealing the Mona Lisa if you download a high-res digital photo of it."

OK, lets say everyone decides to download their movies for free. What do you think is going to happen? Do you think you will still be able to go to the cinema to see the latest blockbuster?

There would be no cinemas and there would be no blockbusters. Who's going to invest their money in making a movie? If we all have your mindset then every movie made would end up on youtube (or the likes) with pop up ads and 3 minute adverts every 10 minutes as this would be the only way the movie investors would be able to get a return on their investment.

Sounds like a nice future.

When that happens, let me know when someone brings out a program that can bin the adverts and put the films back together without them. You know, just like the way the movies used to be :-)

But that is the problem and the industry (music and film) knows this. Because people can get it for free and are now so used to it, they think it is perfectly acceptable to do so as they are not harming anyone. You harm everyone involved in the industry. From the man cleaning the floors of the studio to the person who sells you a ticket at your local Odeon.

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Actually, you ARE depriving the copyright holder of physical goods!

If you didn't download the song/film/game/whatever, you would have had to BUY it. That is, handing out some form of payment, which the copyright holder could have used to pay for food/clothes/singing lessons/a new car/bling...

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Anonymous Coward

Cloud Cuckoo Reading Fail

> So with that same mind set it is perfectly acceptable to steal a car from a dealers as you cannot afford one and you have no intentions of ever buying one but the dealer is ok as they would never have sold one to you in the first place. It is theft and it ALWAYS affects someone.

You appear to have read the post you were responding to, and even have this in your quote block "and the sell to a paying customer is not prevented (and therefore is not lost)" yet you failed to realise this and continued with a completely broken analogy.

Copyright infringement is only theft if you redefine theft to mean copyright infringement. If it were already theft then we wouldnt need copyright legislation to combat it.

Your analogy would only work if by stealing the car you left an exact copy with the dealer that they could sell to someone else. As everyone else has said, if you can do that you bigger things to think about than driving your shiny new Aston (and the money your invention is going to bring in will let you legitimately buy thousands.)

Its good that you carried on this false analogy though and conflating P2P filesharers with rioters was pure genius. All fail, but genius nonetheless.

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Anonymous Coward

eh?

> If you didn't download the song/film/game/whatever, you would have had to BUY it. That is, handing out some form of payment, which the copyright holder could have used to pay for food/clothes/singing lessons/a new car/bling...

So by the same argument any products we DONT buy are depriving the copyright holder in the same manner.

We should all be punished for failing to buy every new song, film, book, piece of art (etc) because anything else is depriving the copyright holder of their payment, therefore theft.

Thank you.

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Oh Sorry I forgot...

...music did not exist until big business was there to distribute it. And of course they are absolutely required in order to bring visual media to our eyes. If only there was some way that independent filmamakers could produce and distribute their movies directly to my telly tube, or your telly tube where the distribution has little to zero cost... mytube... yourtube... I'm sure somewhere in there there's some kind of business idea ;-)

Big distribution is dead, it's no longer required and it's using it's death thoes to try and litigate anything and everyone.

Well done Switzerland.

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Incorrect analogy

Your analogy is wrong sir.

Allow me:

"Is it ok for me to borrow a copy of some food if I still buy as much as I did before I copied"

Makes no sense, does it.

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> Is it ok for me to steal food if I still buy as much as I did before I stole?

Only if by "steal food" you mean "perfectly replicate food, without depriving anyone else of said food"

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Anonymous Coward

Their argument really only works because the product is digital.

Since stealing the copyrighted "product" does not result in the merchant's inability to sell that "product", then if the same amount of money is being spent on that "product" then nothing has been lost. The food analogy is nice, but doesn't work unless the supermarket can still sell the food that you stole. Otherwise, they're out the value of the food.

Essentially, the ruling is that the merchants have not lost any of their stock of "products." Nor have they lost any of their income. Thus, we should conclude that the merchants still have what they would have had if there was no downloading occuring. And if nothing has been lost, then we can't reasonably say that a crime has occurred.

More interesting is that their study implies that people are downloading CDs and using the money they didn't spend on music to buy games instead. It would be interesting to see whether that's the case or if people don't feel they get as much value from a CD or something else. So there could be an argument that the recording artists and companies are losing out to the video game companies. Then, the recording companies might have a leg to stand on, but they'd actually need some supporting evidence for that.

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Anonymous Coward

The END IS NIGH!

> OK, lets say everyone decides to download their movies for free. What do you think is going to happen? Do you think you will still be able to go to the cinema to see the latest blockbuster?

Yet, strangely, this never happened.

Its like saying if everyone decided to stop watching movies the same problem will happen. The reality is hell will freeze over first.

Oddly, your ability to miss what people are saying had led you to miss the comments above (and Swiss research) which allude to sharers going out and buying as much as they ever would. It appears that despite your placard waving predictions of the end of the world, 10 years of rampant filesharing didnt cause much of a dint in the production of films or music.

Who'da thunk it?

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Anonymous Coward

@bigweeal

Do you also think that if someone steals your identity it means you can no longer remember your own name?

The fact that people have decided to start calling some acts "theft" doesnt make them the same as traditional thefts - it is more down to the need to shock people which has led to this bastardisation of language, which in turn leads to people making completely inappropriate analogies to prove a point.

Notice, the one thing it doesnt do is make it right.

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"I do not know what you do but I sincerely hope it does not end up online one day and becomes a downloadable commodity because if it does, your fecked, your boss is fecked and so are all his suppliers as long a people have the same mind set as your good self. It is theft and it always affects someone."

That comment is ironic in the extreme given that I'm a web developer.

But I digress. Had you bothered to read my post in it's entirety you would have noticed two things:

1) Copyright infringement is, in my opinion, an immoral activity. I do not condone it, I mearly don't like seeing it called something it isn't. Calling file sharing theft is like calling a severe but non-sexual beating a rape. It is sensational and dishonest, but the beating was still wrong.

2) When a file is downloaded the owner can still sell that file to legitimate customers, which is why it is not theft. In order for theft to occur, someone must loose something. You would have noticed this had you even bothered to read the part of my post you quoted.

Now to your points:

When you steal a car, the owner of that car looses something (the car). Therefore theft has occured. Now if you were able to somehow produce an exact copy of that car out of thin air and drive off with it, then the owner of the car would still have the original and would not have lost anything. That is infringement.

The equating of P2P with rioting is hyperbole at best and stupidity at worst. As I have pointed out and logically proven, infringement is a different beast than theft, and last time I checked file sharing has never resulted in bodily injuries.

And as I said, I'm a web developer. If my stuff isn't downloadable there's something terribly wrong.

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FAIL

This is your logical fallacy

If I were to download the latest Twilight will-she-wont-she 'drama', there is a chance that I may watch it, maybe just the first 20 minutes...

If I do not, there is no chance that I will pay to see it in any format.

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For the "Depirvation" arguments

The "owner" of the food is being denied something - the value of that good they would have gotten for selling it. You would have had to have paid for the food - even though there is an exact duplicate there you are denying them of the money you rightfully should have paid.

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once more for the cheap seats

once more for the cheap seats: the issue is not whether copyright infringement is 'okay', economically, morally, or ethically. The issue is whether it is the same thing as theft, with the same consequences.

It is trivially provable that copyright infringement is not the same as theft, and that's what the arguments above are about. The question of whether copyright infringement is legally/morally/ethically acceptable does not come into it. The issue is that it is simply incorrect and unhelpful to refer to copyright infringement as 'theft', because it is _not_ theft. Even the pretzelish argument that copyright infringement 'deprives' the copyright holder of the money you would theoretically otherwise have paid for the copyrighted material does not make copyright infringement theft, because the argument is not whether anyone potentially loses out in any way, but whether copyright infringement is actually equivalent to theft. It isn't.

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they say that now...

But wait until they become the p2p seedbox / vpn / shell account centre of the world. It'll be like stoners to Amsterdam.

True though, all this missing money only exists in the whistful private jet, coke and hookers dreams of the execs of a fading industry.

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WTF?

Unbelievable. As an owner of one of the last remaining independent dvd rental outlets in the UK, i can categorically state it IS detrimental to my income, my distributors income and that of the film studios and it is now detrimental to the cost of $Billions annually. It really DOES affect normal peoples lives.

"The percentage of disposable income spent on consumption in this area remains constant,"

Of course it stays the same you feckin @rseholes. They only ever have so much money. Now instead of buying music and renting movies, they blag it all leaving their pennies to buy more games. If they did not get online life time bans for chipping their consoles, they would be blagging their games as well.

We never see a teenager in our shop now, unless it's to rent a game and when they come in you hear them stating, seen that, seen that, seen that and this is with the weeks new releases that have just hit the shops that day.

Yes, i know it is all going online now and i do not have a problem with that, but i would really like to see an "age study" to see the average age of someone paying to download from btvision, blinkbox etc. I bet it has to be 35+ as the majority below 30 have the mentality if i can get it for free i will.

When we close down, i'm off to letmewatchthis.com as well. :-)

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sorry for you, but...

I'm sorry that your business is not doing well, but how much of your downturn can you place on the shoulders of copyright infringement, or have people simply stopped renting DVDs because... well... there's better options, many of which are legal?

I don't download films, but I haven't rented in 5 years now. Yes, I used to...

Lovefilm or similar subscription based postal rental? iTunes or other immediate download sites? Supermarkets selling new release DVDs for £9?

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"As an owner of one of the last remaining independent dvd rental outlets in the UK, i can categorically state it IS detrimental to my income, my distributors income and that of the film studios and it is now detrimental to the cost of $Billions annually."

Can you though? Cite sources, reference research, produce statistics. The Swiss have done this and concluded that whilst particular aspects of the industry change, the overall economy remains the same. Or do you feel that legislation to preserve individual jobs that cannot compete on the free market is a good trend?

I didn't stop renting DVDs because Piracy was easier, I stopped renting DVDs because the competitive difference between rental (say ~£3, two nights only, limited selection due to finite floor space, and requires me to go to to the rental store) and owning the media (£3-£7 and can be picked up during my foodshop at the local supermarket) shifted against you as my disposable income increased as I got older.

You might as well blame Tescos for having a cheap DVD aisle.

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Mushroom

Intuitively there is an impact

Despite bigweeal's post being a minority opinion, it is correct. Nobody can be intellectually honest and believe that unfettered copying of media, games, music, etc. doesn't affect the sales. No way is it the 1-to-1 sale loss that software/media people claim...that's retarded. But it isn't zero, either.

Autodesk doesn't loose $7,000 when some high schooler copies Maya. But some percentage of high schoolers would have purchased a CD or rented a movie had the copy not been available.

We can talk about "how big of an impact", but to say "there isn't any" puts you in the same lying sack-o-#### camp as the media weasels.

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"We never see a teenager in our shop now, unless it's to rent a game and when they come in you hear them stating, seen that, seen that, seen that and this is with the weeks new releases that have just hit the shops that day."

They could have been to the cinema - old school, I know. Another issue with DVD rental outlets is often the combination of price and time since cinema release and the experience is not heightened by scratched and generally fucked discs. You'd have though you'd just be able to go into a place and get a DVD quality file dumped on a flash drive by now. If you think that'd aid piracy I can tell you that DVD quality USB file vs DVD ripping really is no issue at all. Also, have you ever considered that your business has been eaten by iTunes? I hear the youth use it and others like it.

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Anonymous Coward

Market Forces

> Unbelievable. As an owner of one of the last remaining independent dvd rental outlets in the UK, i can categorically state it IS detrimental to my income, my distributors income and that of the film studios and it is now detrimental to the cost of $Billions annually. It really DOES affect normal peoples lives.

You cant categorically say this - unless of course you have the appropriate research - what you mean is that you have formed this opinion based on your available evidence.

What you are experiencing is the crush of changing market forces. Like it or not, some business models cease to become viable and no amount of "its not fail" will change that.

Despite your assumption that your economic woes are down to the EVIL FILESHARING KIDDIES this may not be the case. For example, I am 24 and while I do not download movies, I dont rent them either.

The video, sorry DVD, rental market had a golden age in the 1980s but by the 1990s the writing was on the wall and it wasnt because people wanted to share grainy crap on 28.8k modems.

Rental *shops* (in the physical sense) are competing with dirt cheap DVDs from supermarkets (I can go to Tesco and buy a DVD for little more than the rental cost), Sky Movies / Virgin / BT showing HD films on demand and the crippling blow is the likes of Lovefilm - which not only has a great way of sending out physical copies but allows me to stream movies on demand.

Filesharing *may* be part of the problem, but even if you magically made that go away, the physical rental shop is doomed to history - along with dozens of other jobs that time and technology have crushed.

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I see your point

but let's face it, DVDs were a quality hop from VHS yet, with the speed that the world is changing, are dead. BluRay? Yes, I have 8 discs.

I live in Switzerland and would buy Dexter from last night if they would sell it to me. Nope, not possible - but I am empowered and go get it.

These media firms need to recognise and react - just like the music industry has. Give me what I want when I want it and don't treat me like a 3rd world consumer. Because I am not and I will resolve my own problem.

Plus I'll play what I want on what I want. DRM is bollocks.

Thanks for listening :) And sorry but you need to find a new business because it's not just piracy killing it - it's pricing and distribution models too.

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Anonymous Coward

@Steven Jones and Chad H.

The Swiss are not great protectors of thier patents anyway in most cases you will find. They patent for the process of documenting rather than suing people's arses.

Secondly and most importantly the thing that is not mentioned here is that any storage media that is bought in the country is taxed especially to pass on to the media industry, so it is more like getting the content that you want to fill the media up that you have already paid the media companies for.

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(Un)Common Sense

Wow! A government that collects evidence, analyses it, then acts on the result! I don't remember the last time I was impressed (positively) by politicians.

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Anonymous Coward

@ chad h

the argument in food terms is more like - "is it ok for me to grow seeds from food I buy, thereby making a copy, if that food species has been patented"

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WooHoo!

Some sense in a GubberMint finally.

And off course nobody will be able to touch them our else they will burn all that stolen Jewish money or report all the tax avoiding corporations.

I think if this fight comes down to who has the bigger bag of cash then my money is on the Swiss.

I'm not a Pirate, I'm just not happy with Big Business ruining the Internet.

Sing a Michael Jackson Song = 5 Years ---------------------- Kill Michael Jackson = 4 years - Go figure

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I'm curious...

...what specific incident are you referring to in your "Sing a Michael Jackson Song = 5 Years" comment?

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