Switzerland Comes Out With Facts On Downloading and Piracy. Concludes It Should Remain Legal.

One of the arguments against piracy when it comes to downloading goods is that money is lost that would have otherwise been spent.  The problem is, there’s no way to prove this.  Switzerland took up the challenge, commissioning a study to look into the subject and whether piracy should remain legal, and it’s conclusion is it SHOULD.  In a country where a third of those over 15 have downloaded movies, music and games for personal use the government has concluded it’s actually good for copyright holders as the money is eventually spent.

The report states this is just the changing times:

Every time a new media technology has been made available, it has always been ‘abused’. This is the price we pay for progress. Winners will be those who are able to use the new technology to their advantages and losers those who missed this development and continue to follow old business models.

The report used a Dutch study to figure out the impact on copyright holders as the two countries are similar.  It turns out, downloaders spend more on entertainment.  Via TorrentFreak:

The report states that around a third of Swiss citizens over 15 years old download pirated music, movies and games from the Internet. However, these people don’t spend less money as a result because the budgets they reserve for entertainment are fairly constant. This means that downloading is mostly complementary.

The other side of piracy, based on the Dutch study, is that downloaders are reported to be more frequent visitors to concerts, and game downloaders actually bought more games than those who didn’t. And in the music industry, lesser-know bands profit most from the sampling effect of file-sharing.

The report also examines laws in other countries that have implemented to fight online piracy such as the three strikes rule.  It mentions how this might not be legal in the first place as the UN Human Rights Council claimed internet access a human right.  It also brings up the topic of filtering and blocking access to websites for piracy, but concludes this violates free speech.

TorrentFreak sums it up nicely:

The overall suggestion the Swiss government communicates to the entertainment industries is that they should adapt to the change in consumer behavior, or die. They see absolutely no need to change the law because downloading has no proven negative impact on the production of national culture.

With SOPA and Protect IP being debated in the United States, it’ll be interesting to see if this study plays into the debate at all.