The outcome of the (first) Pirate Bay trial in Sweden is old news by now. You know the story, it’s about the guys behind the BitTorrent site “The Pirate Bay” (www.thepiratebay.org). Nevertheless, I feel the urge to ask the powers that be if they are right in the head, or if this is some sort of compensation for small egos, small genitalia or just a total lack of brain cells.
I haven’t read everything about the trial; because I cannot be bothered. Media is telling the part of the story that sells; the part that sells commercials on TV, the part that sells newspapers and magazines, and the part that make politicians look assertive and important.
Now, one thing should be made clear about this whole thing. The debate isn’t about copyright infringement, nor is the case. I don’t think anyone out there with half a brain would argue that stealing is ok. Most people know that walking into a grocery store and grabbing some milk & cookies without paying for it is actually theft. Had this trial been about the theft of intellectual propery, it would have been an open and shut case. But alas, it is not.
If the case is about the theft of intellectual property rights, where is the proof from the owners of these rights that the awarded sum of SEK 30,000,000 is actually a representative figure? How does one prove how “much has been stolen” in a digital world? The claim was initially for SEK 100,000,000. So in a country where one is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, the state has “proven” that 30,000,000 is a reasonable sum. Or did they?
If the Pirate Bay trial shows anything, it shows that the laws and regulations of intellectual property rights are outdated to say the least. Few things have evolved at the same speed the Internet has. Let it be stated: this case won’t change a thing; it will not prevent file sharing or illegal distribution of digitized media, nor will it scare people for long. What it will do is to force the development of better, faster, and more efficient proxy-services for people who want to continue doing what they were doing before the trial ended. And people will be willing to pay money for these services.
By the same token, the state should sue the owners of YouTube since YT has tons of copyrighted material; the state should go after owners of MP3 players since they can be used for theft of intellectual property rights.
Come to think of it, here are some things that should be made illegal:
- VCRs and digital TV boxes with recording capabilities; I mean, I could record something and send it to someone else.
- The Internet; hey.. do I need to say more.
- Anything that can be used as a weapon; here we should sue the manufacturers, since it’s obviously their fault. If I smash someone in the head with a toaster made by Philips, obviously Philips needs to be taken to court. They should assume the cost of the trial, as well as any money awarded for damages.
The people behind the Pirate Bay are being used as scapegoats for the millions of “criminals” (ordinary people) that the record and media companies cannot get at. These guys are paying the price for the fat executives’ anger.
If the Pirate Bay are responsible for the people using it to break the law, are the banks also responsible for the trillions of dollars being laundered every day in the banking system throughout the world? If not, why not? If they are, why aren’t we bringing them down?
If you cannot stop something with brute force, you need to find another solution. This has been debated for a number of years in Sweden, but the politicians are busy inspecting their inner person with their head (I’ll let you figure out where they have their head to be able to do that).
Sweden has a special “penalty tax” for certain types of media such as CDs and DVDs. Part of the “income” from that tax goes to organizations that “protect” artists’ rights. So here’s the next question: who stores music or movies on CDs and DVDs these days?
Sweden has a special fee for “public service television”. The fee should be paid for each TV receiver you own, including VCRs, digital TV boxes, TV sets, etc. Of course, nobody pays the fee twice and many people don’t bother paying the fee at all.
There is no such tax on Internet services like ADSL, VDSL, residential broadband, etc. Why not? Simply put the tax on each connectivity service, everybody pays. Do the same thing with the “public service television” fee. Everybody pays. Let’s say we have three million Internet connectivity accounts in Sweden (it’s probably a lot more since some people have both residential ADSL as well as a mobile broadband account); add SEK 50 per month per account to the connection fee. That’d be SEK 150,000,000 per month, times 12 we get 1,800,000,000 or SEK 1.8 billion per year. Now, you tell me this wouldn’t make up for the “loss in revenue”?
This trial is about a justice system being bullied by fat media companies that have been unable to capitalize on the positive sides of the Internet. The reason they have been unable to embrace technology is because they are not well prepared for a decentralized market.
And guess what, you are paying for it.
The record store is dead. The CD and DVD are dead. Boo-hoo. Move on, get with the 21st century, that’s where the rest of us are.