The Dutch Supreme Court is set to seek the advice of the European Court of Justice concerning the right to make private copies of music and other online data.
Currently it is considered acceptable for Dutch citizens to download copyrighted material for personal use, even if that content comes from an illicit source such as file-sharing networks. If the European court says no then that could be scrapped.
The case involves argument over the country’s private copy tax, which sees Dutch citizens granted the right to carry out personal use copying in return for rightsholders picking up revenue from taxes on blank media. You might remember blank media.
But the argument was raised that the current levy should also extend to cover downloads made from illegal sources. According to TorrentFreak, the Dutch Court of Appeals thought that downloading from an illegal source is itself legal, mainly because the Secretary of Justice had repeatedly said so.
But the Supreme Court now makes the observation that the EU Copyright Directive may consider that copying from an illegal source is self-evidently illegal, so it has referred the matter to the European Court of Justice. The Supreme Court has asked the ECJ several questions including whether private copying can only be legal if carried out from a legal source.