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Denmark Plans to Legalize Music Downloading
By Joris Evers - IDG

The Danish government is preparing a law that will legalize the downloading of music from the Internet, a government spokesman confirmed Friday, angering copyright holders.

Elsebeth Nielsen, the Danish minister for culture, wants to relax the country's private copying law. Danes currently aren't allowed to make any copies of digital media such as CDs. The proposed rules, however, will give Danes more rights then many other Europeans.

"We will make it legal to make digital copies for personal use," said ministry spokesman Kenneth Jorgensen.

As an example, Jorgensen said Danes would be allowed to make a copy of a CD for use in their cars, a form of offline copying allowed in many countries. The proposed law also will make it legal for Danes to copy music from the Internet to their PC, Jorgensen said.

Downloading of copyright material without the consent of the rights holder is illegal in most European countries, as is the sharing of copyright material.

Offering songs online to others, which can for example be done by using Napster software, still won't be legal in Denmark, Jorgensen said.

"Danes can legally download from the Internet, but sharing their own files will be illegal," he said.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, which represents the worldwide recording industry, said it would be "shocked" if Denmark is in fact allowing digital downloads of copyright files.

"I can't believe you can make a lawful copy from a completely illegal Internet copy," said Allen Dixon, general counsel for IFPI. "In our view, that would be against the European copyright directive and violate World Trade Organization rules, as it would interfere with normal trade."

Dixon doesn't believe that the final law will include online digital copying, but that it will strictly focus on offline digital copying.

In light of the proposed law, Danish copyright organization Copy-Dan is asking for compensation for copyright holders.

"We are in principal against digital copying, but we are also realistic and see that digital copying is happening," said Sven Karnov, managing director of audiovisual rights at Copy-Dan. "Because of growing digital copying, rights holders will sell less of their product. We demand compensation."

"There should be a levy on all equipment that can make digital copies. The consumer should pay when the device is bought," said Karnov. "The government wants to take away protection we had in the past years."

Copy-Dan collects a fee on each blank cassette sold in Denmark. Starting in July, a charge will be put on blank CDs. The organization wants more.

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