In this contribution, the author explores some of the issues that are currently dominant in the debate revolving illegal downloading (also known as digital piracy). Four specific issues are addressed. Firstly, the legal status of downloading is discussed, followed by a brief analysis of a debate currently being held within the Dutch parliament dealing with this issue. Of particular interest is the proposed ‘download-ban’ which is intended to decrease digital piracy and increase legitimate sales. However, as will be demonstrated, this proposed ban is not without criticisms. Following this analysis, the question is raised what is actually empirically known about the impact of illegal downloading on the involved industries, and whether proposed measures such as a ‘download-ban’ can have the desired impact. Finally, the role of copyrights in the digital environment is explored.
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