Like many other countries around the world, downloading music and movies is hugely popular in the Netherlands.
In part, the popularity was facilitated by the fact that downloading pirated music has long been legal under local law.
This tolerant stance towards online piracy changed in 2014 when the European Court of Justice ruled it to be unlawful. As a result the Dutch Government quickly outlawed unauthorized downloading.
Breaking the habits of a large section of the population will take more than that though, as local piracy rates remain high, which is a thorn in the side of the movie industry.
Earlier this year the Association of Professional Film Entrepreneurs (VPSO) decided to take action. In a letter sent to Secretary of State for Justice they held the Government responsible for their piracy losses.
In addition to tougher anti-piracy measures, the film industry group also claimed 1.2 billion euros ($1.34 billion) as compensation for the piracy losses they claim to have suffered since 2004.
However, the Dutch Government has no intention of paying up. NU reports that the Attorney for the Dutch state sent a letter to VPSO denying responsibility for the cited losses.
According to Minister of Safety and Justice Ard van der Steur, who informed the Dutch House of Representatives about this issue late last week, the Government hasn’t done anything wrong.
“The State does not consider itself liable for the damage VPSO allegedly suffered by VPSO. Contrary to VPSO’s claims, the Copyright Directive wasn’t applied incorrectly, so there’s no question of illegality,” he writes.
In addition, there are doubts about the link between piracy and losses as well as the claimed height of the damages.
“In addition, there are other critical notes that can be placed alongside VPSO’s alleged claim, such as the statute of limitations, the absence of a causal relationship, as well as the height of the allegedly suffered damages,” Van der Steur adds.
Instead of holding the State responsible, the film companies were told that they have plenty of legal options to recoup their losses through civil procedures, a suggestion that they should go after downloaders instead.
While the Dutch Government denies responsibility, the Justice Minister says they are willing to discuss possible enforcement options with Internet providers and film representatives, to better deter piracy going forward.