Once Again, More State Dept. Cables Show Swedish Copyright Enforcement At The Behest Of US

from the but-of-course dept

There’s absolutely nothing surprising at all about the following, but Christian Engstrom (one of the two European Parliament Members from The Pirate Party) highlights yet another leaked State Department cable that shows that many of the copyright enforcement efforts of the Swedish government were in response to a six point checklist given to the Swedish government by the US Embassy (English translation from the original Swedish — though at the end of the Swedish post the original cable is available in English). The six point check list passed on by the embassy was almost certainly originally from US industry lobbyists. There’s nothing in this that is even remotely surprising (and hints of this had already leaked previously).

What really gets me about this is why do countries like Sweden even really care about the Special 301 Report, which is used as the main “stick” by the US Embassy. As we discuss every year, the US Trade Rep (USTR) each year puts together a silly “Special 301 Report” which lists out who’s been naughty and who’s been nice on intellectual property issues… according to US industry. The list is widely regarded as a joke by many — including within the US government. I was once at a copyright conference where people from the US Copyright Office openly mocked the Special 301 Report as being a meaningless joke. In part, that’s because it’s not based on any hard science or actual data at all. Instead, it’s written mainly based on what US industry says are problem countries… with a review from US diplomats stationed in those countries. The “leaked” cable is the US embassy in Sweden weighing in on the 2009 report.

Of course, getting on that list is somewhat meaningless. All it really means is that US diplomats will put more pressure on those countries to fix and/or change the situation in that country — which is exactly what the cable shows the US embassy was already doing in Sweden. What I don’t really understand is why Swedish officials caved so easily. Canada has been in the same position for years, with US industry making up completely bogus and totally unsubstantiated claims about how Canada is a “haven” for copyright infringement, despite the fact that Canada’s copyright laws are much more stringent than the US’s in many ways. While some Canadian politicians have pushed for new copyright reform, the attempt two years ago that was almost certainly written by US industry got shot down. However, what’s really interesting is that Canada responds each year to the Special 301 report by noting its ridiculously flawed methodology and pointing out that it’s purely a political list, and not one to be concerned about.

What’s unfortunate is that Sweden did not do the same, but that its government pretty much folded. Of course, what’s amusing is that the undertones of this cable, and previous cables on this issue suggest that Swedish politicians know that the public absolutely does not support them in pushing this “made in America” approach to copyright law. But, for whatever reason, they still seem to feel compelled to follow through with it. What I don’t quite understand is why that is? I would guess the concern is trade sanctions by the US against Sweden, which is the undercurrent of all of the Special 301 threats, but at some point the Swedish government should stand up for itself and not be bullied in such a manner.

I normally do not list out political parties of politicians on this blog, as it tends to drive the discussion in a political direction, rather than on the facts of the article. However, when I did this last time with a Pirate Party MEP, I was falsely accused of trying to “hide” the fact. So I’ll mention it here, in part, because (after thinking about it) I don’t think mentioning the Pirate Party leads to the same sort of political mudslinging that naming a major party creates.

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Comments on “Once Again, More State Dept. Cables Show Swedish Copyright Enforcement At The Behest Of US”

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50 Comments
Darryl says:

this is normal practice

What do you find unusual about this Mike ? it is clear the US the major producer of copyright content, it is in their interest to ensure all countries apply equal and fair laws regarding the use of produce from the US.

are you surprised that countries talk to each other, and work out common laws, and try to modify laws so the are more compliant with other countries ?

you say that sweden ‘caved’ I would say they understood, that the laws were right and just, and that it is far better to comply with the internation laws and common law than to try to find loopholes that enable you to break the law in another country..

I does not matter anyway, someone can be easily chared under US law for a crime against a US company or person..

Its just easier if other countries have effective laws that make that unnessary. let them deal with their own crime..

What would you rather Mike ?

is this what you call ‘non-news news’ ? and is this the level of the leaked cables so far??? gee they are not very significant.. and not beyond common sense…. remember that ?

Phil says:

Huh...

Yeah, this is interesting and not surprising. The stink about FRA and Ipred that happened in Sweden were met with uproar among young people and I think it might be one of the first times that a serious popular movement of new-left/libertarian stripe has really sprung up here in Sweden.

What’s fascinating to me is that I can’t figure out why the government cares. Sweden has a history of being openly opposed to American policies. It’s true that they have, behind the scenes, taken positions that are usually pro-USA, but I can’t really figure out why in this case. If you dig a bit deeper you’ll find that there are people in this right wing government who understand that these policies are stupid. Surprisingly, the leader of the Center Party frankly told the US embassy that they weren’t going to convince the youth of anything and that said youth didn’t trust the government (this is true for two reasons: one because of this kind of stuff and a negative attitude towards the USA and two because of support for left parties). Maud Olofsson is not known for being quick on her feet, but she definitely got that one right.

Most importantly, though, is how fascinating it is to see the puppet strings going from the industry to the US government to other countries. I mean, they’re openly calling for countries to be ‘sanctioned’ and the government is having to build cases against this? WTF?

Anonymous Coward says:

Mechanism and mannerism

Political mannerism fueled by the 301 report mechanism.

The 301 report is just a mechanism used in the U.S. to justify things some want to happen.

It is of concern that people don’t take it serious because that report point to the way, it is a compass pointing to the direction people with influence want things to go and although meaningless in and on itself the powers behind it are not, more grave may be the fact that those same powerful people don’t care about reality or facts and that can only end in disaster.

Now more important, politicians believe in that report, they don’t know it is a joke and even those who do know apparently think nobody else cares or know about it so they use that as a weapon to ask for ridiculous concessions or to justify punishment. Mind that in the U.S. there is a culture of punishment not dialogue. It seams that every time something is done there is a punishment component to achieve something and that is also problematic, people lost the sense of building up consensus and just try to push for the easiest way to accomplish things and that is forcing others instead of building the support necessary for things to happen.

cc (profile) says:

this is normal practice

This is proof that the US is bullying Sweden to disregard the democratic process and the interests of its people, while it instead favours the interests of US companies. It’s not surprising, but it’s certainly informative. It also gives us an idea of how much pressure world governments must be under to do everything the US says, seeing Sweden is following the checklist by the letter.

Non-news? That’s right. You definitely don’t want to know about it because you’ll feel ashamed for letting your country interfere with democracy, and we’ll be angry that our politicians are complete wusses that do everything a foreign government asks of them, despite the people being vehemently opposed.

But then again, you don’t strike me as someone who has scruples. Just go hit that bottle already.

robin (profile) says:

Mechanism and mannerism

It is of concern that people don’t take it serious because that report point to the way, it is a compass pointing to the direction people with influence want things to go and although meaningless in and on itself the powers behind it are not, more grave may be the fact that those same powerful people don’t care about reality or facts and that can only end in disaster.

+1, the crux of the apostrophe

Martin says:

One of the two journalists who revealed (and was therefor put into jail for a year) a secret government organized called the Information Bureau who spied on Swedish citizens and registered their political opinions in the 70’s wrote an article where he speculates that Sweden is officially stuck in it’s neutrality policy but has all this time relied on promises on militairy support from the US in exchange for intelligence information gathered by Sweden. Now I think this is mostly speculation, but it’s not impossible that there’s is something to it considering how much the Swedish government has struggled the last couple of years in order to get new wiretapping laws passed.

And even if it’s not related to the somewhat hypocritical neutrality principle of Sweden I’m sure the U.S. can put a lot of economical pressure on a small country anyway.

Kevin (profile) says:

Re:

If you looked at the polling right now you would see that a vast majority of American’s DO NOT like what our government is doing. Unfortunately with a government the size of ours its takes forever for us to institute any kind of change. Even when we think we do (Obama or the most recent elections) we end up with noting more than a different version of the same thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Selectively exposing “truths”, timed to embarrass a country that is criminally prosecuting you is pretty much an attack, yes. I would have to think that Mr Assange likely wouldn’t have chosen to use these documents until a later date if he wasn’t looking at years and years in prison. He likely would hold them until near the next Swedish election, to try to get his friends in the Pirate party elected.

You really have to ask yourself what Mr Assange’s goals are, because more and more his actions are becoming way too obvious. Martyr for “the cause”, perhaps?

Kevin (profile) says:

Re:

I said American’s.. Not corporations. The corporate mentality is that if its good for the company than its good for me. Which in part is true. It is the rest of us who suffer and the hands of them. These lobbyist’s are supposed to be the experts that our leaders turn to for information. When the experts you turn to either omit details or flat out lie then what can you do? The insidious part is that the politicians do not always check their facts and often times take what their “expert” have told them at face value.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re:

Selectively exposing “truths”, timed to embarrass a country that is criminally prosecuting you is pretty much an attack, yes.

Timed to embarass? [citation needed]

I assumed that this cable was one of the many that where released all at the same time and someone digging through them just found it recently. Please correct me if I am wrong.

You really have to ask yourself what Mr Assange’s goals are, because more and more his actions are becoming way too obvious. Martyr for “the cause”, perhaps?

I feel that Assange’s flamboyant ways are calculated to draw attention away from the other people and systems that are doing the real work at WikiLeaks. If this is true and based on your comments and others I have read, it’s working out splendidly.

Anonymous Coward says:

I normally do not list out political parties of politicians on this blog, as it tends to drive the discussion in a political direction, rather than on the facts of the article. However, when I did this last time with a Pirate Party MEP, I was falsely accused of trying to “hide” the fact. So I’ll mention it here, in part, because (after thinking about it) I don’t think mentioning the Pirate Party leads to the same sort of political mudslinging that naming a major party creates.

It only shows that someone with an Agenda is at work, and that there are clear links between Wikipedia, TPB, and The Pirate Party. They all have similar goals.

Congrats to TD for at least being honest, even as they are being a bit of a patsy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

The documents in question were released just before Christmas, just after Julian made it out of Jail. The timing is either intentional, or just one of many very odd things that seem to come with this guy’s life.

Assange is certainly being flaboyant, but at the same time, he is almost entirely obscuring the content of Wikileaks at this point. It almost isn’t about what is on the site anymore, more about what will happen to poor Julian. It’s sad, and looks more and more like a Cult of Assange, rather than anything else.

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

A capital “A”genda no less.

Does having similar goals mean ‘clear links’ to you? Wow… so since every for-profit corporation in existence has the similar goal of increasing capital growth, they are all of the same “agenda” as demonstrated by their “clear links”?

Looks like someone’s tinfoil hat is slipping a bit there.

And what does Wikipedia have to do with it? Do you mean Wikileaks?

sm5por (profile) says:

Stockholm 09-141 cable

I assumed that this cable was one of the many that where released all at the same time and someone digging through them just found it recently. Please correct me if I am wrong.

No, Wikileaks has been publishing batches of cables at regular intervals to maximize news impact by giving people time to read them, and we expect this particular cable (Stockholm 09-141) to be published sometime in the future too, to confirm what we have now is not just a forgery. Because, it hasn’t been published by Wikileaks or its cooperating news media partners yet, not in its entirety. Swedish television broadcaster SVT has published excerpts from this cable, but not all of it.

Instead, what Pirate Party MEP Christian Engstr?m and party leader Rick Falkvinge have published on their own blogs is a cable appearantly leaked to them via non-public channels. As neither Engstr?m nor Falkvinge intend to reveal their source (it’s not even clear whether they themselves know who their source is), we are left to speculate. It could be one of Assange’s colleagues, of course, Assange himself being a bit tied up with the court proceedings in the UK. Or it could be someone else.

In any case, leaking this cable to Engstr?m and Falkvinge for them to publish it over the Christmas weekend, when the general public is most occupied with shopping, severe weather conditions, impact on travel and celebrations, must be the worst timing ever, at least if you expected news headlines.

I guess the reason for leaking it to Engstr?m and Falkvinge is instead to provide our party with a preview of things to come, since we have a specific interest in these issues. We were active in Sweden before Assange considered relocating here, so if there is a connection between this re-leaked cable and the legal fallout from Assange’s visit here in August (when the Pirate Party signed a deal with Wikileaks to provide server capacity), it’s probably the other way around from what the honorable AC suggests. Who should the Stockholm cable have been leaked to instead, the Pirate Party of Switzerland?

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re:

The documents in question were released just before Christmas, just after Julian made it out of Jail. The timing is either intentional, or just one of many very odd things that seem to come with this guy’s life.

Fair enough. (Although no citation)

Assange is certainly being flaboyant, but at the same time, he is almost entirely obscuring the content of Wikileaks at this point. It almost isn’t about what is on the site anymore, more about what will happen to poor Julian. It’s sad, and looks more and more like a Cult of Assange, rather than anything else.

I have to disagree with this. Take this post for example… it’s about the content of a leaked cable and nobody even brought up Assange…until you did.

Nastybutler77 (profile) says:

Re:

You are once again ignoring the fact that there is actual substance in these documents, and instead focusing on the motives behind the release.

You basically just keep saying the same thing when confronted with these true documents: “Yeah, but.” Just like you did when the documents incriminating the banks came to light, instead of acknowledging the validity of the documents, you just railed about Assange’s motives for releasing those particular documents.

Why don’t you focus on what really matters here and give your crusade against Assange a rest.

Gwiz (profile) says:

this is normal practice

Sort of a high tech way of covering your ears and screaming “lalalalalala” when you don’t want to hear something?

More like when I don’t want to hear nothing since a lot of Darryl’s posts are just that – nothing. There’s lots of tinfoil hat rambling, repetition and false accusations but rarely anything of substance and I simply don’t have enough time to decipher his walls of misspelled, poorly punctuated and poorly capitalized text.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Clear links. Where is Wikileaks hosted? Where is the Pirate Bay Hosted? Who is out there supporting both? The Pirate Party.

Same building, same group of friends, common goals. It’s a pretty simple deal, really. Wikileaks is, in many senses, the political version of TPB’s DMCA notice pages. Thumbing their noses at authorities.

If you cannot see that there is likely some connections here, well… you need to get out more.

Anonymous Coward says:

Stockholm 09-141 cable

The question isn’t who, the question is when. Assange got out of jail on the 16th, and now has full internet access and is “back to work” pending the legal process. He himself could very easily have provided the document.

Leaking it to the PP, or putting it on the Wikileaks site and point it out to the PP would have the same effects. Giving it to the PP is even better, as it creates some deniablity for Assange, he can claim it “wasn’t his intention”.

Clearly, the players are in this together in many ways. It’s not hard to understand. It would appear that Wikileaks and the PP have common goals in play here.

Nastybutler77 (profile) says:

Re:

Same building, same group of friends, common goals.

What’s your point? That the Pirate Party is out to ensure the freedom of information? How is that a bad thing? What nefarious activities do you think they are up to?

You’re all full of vague assertions but in reality you say nothing. So please do so silently from now on, unless you actually have something meaningful to bring to the conversation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

The only point is that it really isn’t news when the left hand points at the right hand and says “here is a hand”. Understanding that Wikileaks, TPB, and The Pirate Party are all pretty much one and the same and interchangable at this point certainly changes the perception of the organization.

I also think it makes the PP look sort of silly, offering support for a guy like Assange. They should be trying to distance themselves from such a loose cannon rather than trying to tied themselves in.

The Mad Hatter (profile) says:

SAAB

Oh, come on folks, the answer is so damned simple you should all hang you heads in shame.

SAAB

Not the automobile company, the military aircraft manufacturer. SAAB is one of Sweden’s major exports, in addition to supplying nearly all Swedish military aircraft. To function SAAB has to have access to American technology, like radars, computers, missiles…

So when the Americans threaten to cut the Swedes off, the Swedes pay attention.

That’s what I suspect happened. We’ll have to see if any cables cover the issue.

sam sin says:

is it any wonder why TPB got convicted then? the Swedish government ordered the the courts to convict, ignoring their own legal process. they should be absolutely ashamed of themselves and be replaced at the first opportunity! it was more of a lynching party, instigated by the copyright industries, through the USA government! hope there is a lot of backlash from the Swedish people, now the truth is out. couple that with the ACTA secrecy and results, and there could be even more problems. i still dont understand why governments are giving so much consideration to the entertainment industries, listening to/believing lie after lie, when there are others that generate more money and are more useful

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