• United States
by Ann Harrison

The Honest Thief finds a Dutch P2P haven

Mar 06, 20032 mins
Enterprise Applications

* The Honest Thief sees vast international market for P2P

A Dutch file trading company called The Honest Thief has announced plans to license peer-to-peer software and provide legal advice to those setting up new file trading services.

The company, whose Web site went live in February, is taking advantage of a Dutch appeals court ruling which said that the Kazaa peer-to-peer service was not responsible for the actions of people using its software.

The decision is being appealed to a higher court, but it could make the  Netherlands a safe harbor for file sharing companies.

The trade group IFPI [International Federation of the Phonographic Industry], which represents the international recording industry is complaining of course. But The Honest Thief demonstrates that if there is a big enough international demand for file sharing technology and business models peer-to-peer companies will continue to find a way to sidestep U.S. legal rulings. I believe this will always be true, despite the best efforts of the entertainment industry to litigate them out of existence.

Market research firm Ipsos has just released data showing that half of all teenagers and 19% of all Americans over the age of 12 downloaded music from P2P sites in 2002. According to Ipsos, 10% of all Americans downloaded music in the last 30 days – that equates to almost 20 million people.

Twenty million people. Does anyone really think this market is going to go away? Of course not.

The people of the Netherlands, being the world’s great pragmatists, have already realized that they can’t litigate against something millions of people want. They realized they couldn’t litigate against sex, so they legalized prostitution. They understood clearly that the drug war was a total failure, and so they declined to enforce their own laws against soft drugs.

Neither of these prudent decisions has disturbed the peaceful and prosperous flow of Dutch society. Making Holland a haven for peer-to-peer systems will not only create jobs in Holland, it will give world citizens another reason to admire the Dutch.