“Introducing heavy penalties such as those in France to disconnect people from the Internet is wrong and does not work,” Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said recently as he openly criticized the French 3-strikes ‘solution’ to illicit file-sharing. He says the answer lies with a more creative approach.
“A proposal I have made for some time without being heard is the creation of a great national site where people can legally download music for free,” says Maroni. He believes the cost of such a service could be met by advertisers and sponsors.
A keen musician himself with his band 51 District, Maroni says that he listens to music on his iPod wherever he goes. “I do not spend a day without music,” he noted. But where Maroni gets his music from has been raising a few eyebrows.
Speaking with Italian media, the Minister admitted that he’s a pirate himself, as he downloads illicit music from the Internet. Although there are probably many, many more “in the closet”, to our knowledge, this is the first ‘pirate’ confession by a European minister.
Maroni, who already admitted to illicit file-sharing back in 2006, is unrepentant and says he sees his actions as a provocation. He’s making a stand because he believes that people should be able to download for free, a method of obtaining music he insists is not a crime.
The Minister said that acquiring music in this way is not the same as stealing from a supermarket, noting that all people are doing is taking a copy from someone else over a network.
“It is as if the owner of this computer where I’m going to take the music from did a copy of a CD he bought and gave it to me, something that normally happens when we buy a CD and make copies for our friends,” he added.
FIMI, the Italian branch of the IFPI, were cleared disappointed by Maroni’s comments.
“A few million music tracks legally downloaded for free, over a billion click-free videos on Youtube by officers of Italian artists, more than 90% of individual files sold at less than one euro from dozens of platforms. The Minister should consider the risk to jobs and loss of revenues to the state because of digital piracy,” the music group said in a statement.
Maroni’s comments follow in the wake of a recent Communications Regulatory Authority report which concluded that not only does piracy fail to create the economic damages claimed by the entertainment industries, but repressive policies and monitoring are unconstitutional, unnecessary and harmful.