Based on a new report on the impact of unauthorized downloads, Switzerland seems to be saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The study, released by the Federal Department of Justice and Police, has concluded that piracy doesn’t have a negative economic impact on the nation and contends that the current legislation, which allows for copyrighted material to be downloaded for personal use, is sufficient. Chris Marcich, president of the Motion Picture Association, Europe, tells me it’s a “surprising and disappointing result.” In its investigation (in part based on a year-old Dutch study because the markets are similar), a federal council found that up to one-third of Swiss over the age of 15 download movies, music and games for free and that the majority do not distinguish between downloads that are legal and those that are not. Most compelling for the authors of the study, however, appears to be that users of file-sharing sites are still spending money on entertainment and the savings they realize by downloading free content is in turn being spent on movie tickets and games.
While the council believes that it is especially the “big foreign production companies who suffer” from — and will have to adapt to — new consumer habits, it doesn’t believe these downloads will have a negative impact on Switzerland’s own cultural output. Marcich says, “It’s troubling for them to apparently base their conclusion on that sort of reasoning. The phenomenon affects all countries.” Local film and music producer Adriano Vigano is also an attorney for the country’s anti-piracy association and tells me: “The Swiss government says it’s not so worried about piracy because it only affects foreign rightsholders. That’s an aggressive statement.” Especially, he notes, since foreign films have about 95% market share in Switzerland. Anti-piracy groups, politicians and artists are mobilizing to get the government to collect more data, says Vigano.