Friday, April 24, 2009

The Traditional Media Industry Does Not Deserve To Survive

I’ve been following The Pirate Bay reality show in detail for a week, both professionally and by personal interest. The many turnabouts only strengthen my opinion that the traditional media industry does not deserve to survive. They are in desperate need of a restructuring. It has happened in all other industries. The media industry is no exception.

It also strengthens my opinion that politicians either do not care or just do as they are told by the multinational media companies. Just look at all the latest directives and law proposals: IPRED, ACTA, HADOPI, Q6/17. There are no proposal, except amendment 46/138, aiming to secure democracy, freedom of expression, or free information flow as a base for research and innovation.
Remember: A free flow of information and freedom of expression is an absolute condition – a sine qua non – for innovation and democracy. Without it copyright, patents and trademarks are irrelevant.
The worst stupidity is HADOPI. It’s ironic that it is a law proposed in France, the very origin of “intellectual property”. The term is a direct translation of the French legal term “droit d’auteur”.
The Swedish government do have commissioned an official report on changes in the intellectual property law: ”Översyn av vissa frågor om upphovsrätt (dir. 2008:37)” There are some interesting proposed changes, but the directive avoids the real challenges. It just routinely refers to international conventions, agreements and the EU, and does not show any intelligent opinion on how it should act in the information society.

The Swedish government is hopelessly lost in translation. They show a passive and apathetic political leadership on intellectual property issues. Apparently they don’t have any interest at all in economic or technological development.

I cannot stress this enough: it cannot be reasonable nor fair that solvency – the capacity to pay – determine how society is formed. But that is what is happening. All proposals are to protect the investments the big companies have done – none are to protect innovation or democracy.

We cannot let the ethical and moral development of society only be guided by money.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Pirate Bay verdict - It's so obvious the money won

It’s so very, very obvious. This trial is not about justice, it’s a fight about who can afford to defend a case.

First let’s make things clear about linking and linking:

The Pirate Bay does not itself host audio and video files, but provides links to torrents hosted elsewhere on the internet. So does Google.

But the majority on The Pirate Bay links to files which point to illegal content. While Google may find torrent files, it is a search engine designed to find anything on the web, illegal or not. Google can’t be held responsible for the content of the whole web. The Pirate Bay’s search facility is a lot narrower in scope.

And The Pirate Bay encourage people to download copyrighted material, which makes them a special case.

What upsets me is that The Pirate Bay gets to pay 30 MSEK in damage. (Swedish, English) In penalty terms this is a hefty sentence. A rape victim gets like 100 000 SEK if she is really hurt. The verdict shows that the jury in this trial is in favor of the part with the most resources, the best lobbyists and the most persistent. Which means where the money is.

The IPRED (Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive) is a European Commission directive which Sweden has fully embraced. It give copyright holders the ability to request information from internet service providers about individual users tied to IP addresses through which copyrighted material has been downloaded.

This law, and the numerous other similar ones that seem to be getting passed around the world, is dependent on the ISPs we subscribe to. Turning them into a tool of the law, and insisting they give up details on their customers, is an insult to an honest customer-business relationship, democracy and trust in society.

It’s so very, very obvious that the EU policy makers only speak for the big multinational companies – those who can afford expensive lawyers and lobbyists.

It is not reasonable that the wealthiest people can dictate the laws. That leaves out the poor, the young, the old, the crippled.

I know that The Pirate Bay does not speak for these groups, but it’s a matter of basic democracy and principles. Art have not been defended at all in this case. It’s the business and the monopoly of reproduction that has been defended.

Remember: copyright and patents are strategic business tools, not only to protect intellectual property. The tools are more often used to keep competitors away, like The Pirate Bay.

Technology drives change and creative people will respond. The reason the distributors are screaming so loud is because they realize that their future reduces their role and they are scared. It’s so very, very obvious.

The trial has only further polarized the tech community and the policy makers.

There are Swedish politicians who do understand what is happening, but they are rare.