In Europe, the copyright laws and its protection varies greatly from one country to another and we would like to know what is the main reason for this. Even though in most countries it is illegal to download material with copyright you, as user, could get in more trouble in certain countries just by downloading an album in your computer for your own amusement.
For example, in Spain you can’t download copyright material, it is illegal, although it is also illegal to collect data from Internet users without an authorization. This means no one can obtain your computer’s IP number legally and that is why it is hard to blame you from downloading illegal material. But, if you are downloading that material, let’s say an album to play it in your bar, or as a soundtrack for your holidays video featuring all your friends and uploaded on youtube, then the SGAE (Authors and Editors General Society) or any other association defending the author’s property will be able to sue you because you downloaded that material and used it to share it with many people and probably make a profit out of it.
We have all heard about how strict they are in Germany regarding this issue, what is the difference? Well, apparently, the so-called “fine” that arrives to your home when you download the latest film screened on the cinema is not a fine, but a warning. Copyright lawyers in Germany investigate in order to find the IP numbers that have downloaded illegal material and then follow it until they reach the owner of that computer, sending that letter that warns you if you don’t pay for that amount they will take you to court. There is no Government Association focused on this matter even though that is what many people think.
An intermediate case between Spanish fickle and German restricted system would be France. The last law approved there states that after a few warnings and letters advising the user to stop downloading illegal material, the government can cut the user’s connection leaving him or her without any internet connection but still paying for the service bills. This cut can last between 2 months and 2 years.
One way or another, copyright laws are always changing and updating trying to keep up with new technologies and new ways to obtain illegal material without paying for it. We should probably ask ourselves and the authors which way they prefer it and if they get any money from all those fines charged to users because if they don’t, who is benefiting from all the copyright laws then?