A Pirate's Meme for Me

Sweden's new anti-piracy law went into effect yesterday and the country experienced a significant drop in Internet traffic as a result. The popular BitTorrent file-sharing site The Pirate Bay is based out of Sweden as is the political Pirate Party. Christian Engstrom, vice-chairman of the Pirate Party, said the drop was a direct—if only temporary—result of the law.

Last month, I argued that Internet Service Providers (ISP) are better allies for net neutrality proponents than the European Union. Why? Because it's better to have unregulated individuals and businesses working out the kinks of a Brave New World themselves, sans government interference. Choice quotes from the BBC piece reveal why that is:

Sweden's new policy—the Local IPRED law—allows copyright holders to force Internet service providers (ISP) to reveal details of users sharing files....

The new law, which is based on the European Union's Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED), allows copyright holders to obtain a court order forcing ISPs to provide the IP addresses identifying which computers have been sharing copyrighted material.

And later in the article, Kjell Bohlund, chair of the Swedish Publishers' Association, makes a very forceful point:

"Now we can go get the courts to force ISPs to disclose the user information of an IP address.

To be fair, Bohlund said the new law "is just for the big fish" (although, one wishes he had meant the elusive Red Gummy Fish). But the frequent use of "force" should be a flashing screensaver for everyone interested in an open and accessible internet.

Engstrom called the new law a "disaster," and argued that it gives "private corporations the legal right to go after our civilians. That's not how Western democracies work." As the vice-pirate-chairman astutely notes, "cracking down on illegal file-sharing was not a long term solution." Presumably, because:

...the risks to illegal file-sharers were still quite low.

"We estimate there are two million file-sharing [computers] in Sweden, so even if they prosecuted a 1000 people to make an example of them, for an individual user it is still a very small risk."

So avatars are performing a cost-benefit analysis of pirating and finding new ways to skirt around regulations? It doesn't look good for copyright holders. And thus far, it seems the only (legal) solution has been force: the law forces ISPs to force their customers to stop "using the force." If legislative "landlubbers" continue on this course, it might be time to consider mutiny.

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  • Naga Sadow||

    Does this mean I have to start paying for porn?

  • ||

    ....gives "private corporations the legal right to go after our civilians."



    Unlike, let's say, the discovery process and subpoenae in civil cases in the USA?

    Kevin

    (soooo NAL)

  • ||

    Sweden's new anti-piracy law went into effect yesterday

    Which will prove to be difficult to enforce, a), and will be circumvented by cleverer pirates, b). End result? Oh, maybe more money for the lawyers - they're the ones writing these laws, aren't they? They win, the rest of us lose.

  • High Every Body||

    Does this mean I have to start paying for porn?

    Maybe you but not me. I am not moving to Sweden :)

    So, does this mean Sweden is Arrrrrrrrrggggggg! free?

  • Elemenope||

    What kevrob said. And how.

  • ed||

    which computers have been sharing copyrighted material

    "Sharing." Heh heh. "Sharing" is what I do when I loan somebody my Robyn Hitchcock and The Egyptians "Fegmania!" CD, or offer a slice of pie to a guest. This isn't about "sharing" a single copy of a song or a whole album. It's about copying and distributing somebody else's property on a massive scale, thus denying that individual the fruits of his labor.

  • squarooticus||

    It's about copying and distributing somebody else's property


    Hold up right there: a property of property (if you will) is that only one person can possess it at any one time: if you take a piece of property from someone, he or she no longer possesses it.

    This is not the case with sequences of digital bits: you can copy them and, lo and behold, the original possessor still has them.

    From an enforcement perspective, the fundamental difference between property and legislated monopolies on reproduction of works is:

    * the former can be easily defended because there is and can be only one instance of that property, and if it is stolen/hijacked, for it to be of economic utility to the person stealing it, it must eventually turn up somewhere or be put on the market. Furthermore, there is a cost to stealing/hijacking that necessarily limits the magnitude of the problem.

    * the latter can be copied surreptitiously and without the knowledge of the original creator, so the ability to restrict all non-authorized copies would require ubiquitous government surveillance. Furthermore, the act of copying is virtually free and therefore it can be (and pretty much is) performed by anyone in the privacy of their own home.

  • squarooticus||

    I really need to proofread before submitting. ;-)

  • ||

    Oh, maybe more money for the lawyers

    Woo-hoo!

    Hold up right there: a property of property (if you will) is that only one person can possess it at any one time:

    Bzzt. Most real estate is held by multiple persons, and typically multiple other persons have various rights to use bits of it for other purposes. There is no principled reason why this can't be true of personal property as well; in fact, "my" cars are owned jointly by my wife and I.

    This is not the case with sequences of digital bits: you can copy them and, lo and behold, the original possessor still has them.

    Bzzt again. Intangible property held in digital form (stocks, etc.) can also be duplicated without depriving the original owner of possession. Should running off a million digital copies of Apple stock be allowed?

    Keep trying. I'm not saying that some kinds of existing intangible property rights shouldn't be done away with; I'm agnostic/skeptical on that issue. I'm saying that your distinctions are too facile.

  • ed||

    the latter can be copied surreptitiously and without the knowledge of the original creator...the act of copying is virtually free and therefore it can be (and pretty much is) performed by anyone in the privacy of their own home.

    It's an ethical matter, squarooticus. Being able to get away with theft hardly justifies it.

  • Zeb||

    Perhaps a better way to describe real property is that it can only be possessed once at any given time, whether it is possessed by an individual, couple, corporation or whatever.

    And the fundamental difference that squarerooticus points out is certainly valid. Illicitly copying IP does not deprive the creator of any real property.

  • ||

    I do wonder if the optimal price for a downloaded song is somewhere between free and $.99. Are there people who would pay more than nothing, but less than a buck?

  • squarooticus||

    ed:

    Being able to get away with theft hardly justifies it.


    My point is that it isn't theft. Just because government makes something illegal doesn't mean it's wrong. As far as I am concerned, restrictions on copying of certain sequences of digital bits is a violation of my rights.

    R C Dean:

    Bzzt. Most real estate is held by multiple persons


    Sorry for not splitting hairs sufficiently. Replace "person" by "entity", "corporation", etc. What I mean is that the owner, whether that be a single person or a collective under contract, is deprived of its use by someone else taking it.

    Bzzt again. Intangible property held in digital form (stocks, etc.) can also be duplicated without depriving the original owner of possession.


    In this case, there's some economic value to the person buying stock in determining whether the stock is counterfeit or not, because non-real stock doesn't really confer partial ownership of the company on the holder. As a result, I presume there are systems in place to keep track of all legitimate shares of common stock and make sure that the shares that brokers are selling are not counterfeit. Certainly the company knows how many shares it has issued.

    In the case of digital media, there is no value to the buyer in getting an "authorized" copy versus a counterfeit copy: both are equivalent in that they both confer on the holder the same value, i.e., the ability to experience the movie or music or video game or whatever.

    The only digital media that act more like the aforementioned stock shares are video games that require a subscription for online play: in those cases, counterfeit copies lack access to the game (or at least access simultaneous with the original instance) because each authorized copy is issued with a unique key that permits access by only one client at a time.

  • ||

    Slow down RC Dean. HE'S making facile distinctions? Real estate? Dude, you just compared an mp3 to a skyscraper or a warehouse. No Mr. Dean-- I would not steal a skyscraper or a warehouse. Even if an identical skyscraper took it's place, I would not steal it. Jesus, I can't believe you had to resort to freaking buildings-- what about umbrellas, puppies, canoes, Zagnut bars? Do these not have single owners, who would be pissed if you took their stuff? Methinks you're working a little hard to cozy up to the corporations-- why?? And stocks? Seriously? Don't stocks represent a specific slice of a company? Songs and movies don't represent anything specific to the person who has it-- the studios do their best to fling identical copies all over the world (for a fee of course); if I duplicated some guy's Apple stocks (whatever you mean by that), the value of his stocks would depreciate, wouldn't they? That's something else that doesn't happen in filesharing.

    Keep trying-- to pass the bar, that is.

    PS "Agnostic/skeptical" = P*SSY

    "If you break a crumb in half, you have two crumbs."-- George Carlin

    Now go bzzt yrself.

  • ||

    its all forbidden numbers eh?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forbidden_number

    Certain numbers can be used by anyone

    but others such as

    09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

    are property


    I personally claim the right to

    154844764851515484794764514514581156786

    If anyone else uses that number

    you're ass is mine

    ye hear me ?

    don't fuck wid me that number is mines

    Bitches

  • New Age Pirate||

    Yar har har! Them thar property rights nonsense ye be talkin of about. Tis all bunk, says I! If I can steal it, then it's legal. At least that's how I and I be running our ship. Its so simple, I don't get why you fellow pirate wanna-bee libertachyons or what be ye called dun be seeing it. So I'll seyz it again: If I can take, it's mine. No questions asked, perfectly legal. Otherwise we have to be givin those evil gummit empty suits the rights to stick a spyglass up each of yar arses.

    And anywayz, people shouldn't get paid for staining ink or generating certain numbers! Just think about it! Besides, I be writing this for free. If there be nough lads and lassies out there to write stuff for nay a penny, then we be doing just fine. Just look at how comprehensible and intelligent my writing is!

    Besides, once we get past silly landlubber superstitions like property rights, we can merge our minds together and, like, form a universal hive mind! We'll all be one, and so paying ourselves for our own work just doesn't make sense, now does it? Even a fool dumb pirate like me can see that. All for one, and one for all! (Is that bein copyrighted by what's-his-name who wrote that musketeers book that I be too lazy to Google? Of course not, so just another reason to be a pirate!)

  • Mallet Diction||

    Why not go direct to the copyright holder...

    Pssst...that would mean go to http://penmallet.blogspot.com/

    You can download the music for free.
    If you like what you hear you can send me some money.

    If you share the files with the friends, let them know where they can send money in appreciation.

    Really.
    What's so difficult?

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    With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain Wizard of Oz book series either as collectible or investment at RareOzBooks.com.

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