Tougher Enforcement In Sweden Doesn't Slow Down Public's File Sharing

from the of-course-not dept

For years we’ve argued over and over again that stricter enforcement does nothing to slow down or stop infringement. Often it does the opposite — either by making more people aware of the possibilities to infringe, or driving people further underground. The industry insists that it needs stricter enforcement on a bizarre and widely discredited theory that such strong enforcement is effective as an “education” technique. You hear this all the time from entertainment industry execs. They’re so bought into their infatuation with copyright, that they think the only possible reason why people don’t respect the law is that they haven’t been “educated” enough about it — and what better way to “educate” than to crack down hard?

Except, it never works. It never has and it never will. Increasing enforcement has never — not once — been shown to be an effective long term solution to stopping infringement. It does appear to have short-term effects, as it makes people scatter from actions that are easily trackable, but within a few months (six seems to be about the consensus), file sharing activity tends to find a new path and get back to the same trajectory it was on before.

We’ve now got some more data to support this. A few years back, Sweden passed a very draconian and aggressive enforcement law known as IPRED (Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive), which had the result of a temporary blip in file sharing that disappeared pretty quickly. And now, a new research report has come out showing that just as many 15 to 25-year-olds share unauthorized content online as did so at the time IPRED became law. In fact, a larger percentage of that age group share “heavily,” rather than in smaller amounts.

“We can safely say that the repressive legal developments in this field have very weak support in informal social control mechanisms of society”, says Mans Svensson, Ph.D. in judicial sociology, one of the researchers doing the study. “The social pressure is close to non-existent.”

So why is it that we keep seeing countries pass these kinds of laws? And why do entertainment industry lobbyists keep pushing for them when they’re so woefully ineffective in doing anything positive?

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Comments on “Tougher Enforcement In Sweden Doesn't Slow Down Public's File Sharing”

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G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes but if the community as a whole keeps rejecting the notion that the wall actually exists (since the wall is a virtual wall anyway) the reasoning behind the wall and therefore the wall itself becomes tenuous to the point of actually not existing in any meaningful or even legal way.

The ability of the community to route around, through and over/under laws the community themselves think are ethically wrong is becoming more and more evident and this scares the living crap out of anyone who has a vested interest (ie: money, power, ego) in the formation of these societal control laws. What the tipping point will be and what collateral damage it will cause before and especially after this point is anyone’s guess though we are living in interesting times. Probably more interesting on a social movement area than anything we have witnessed since the Renaissance or maybe not even then (maybe this is a first n all human history)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Honestly, I think the solution is probably pretty simple. Greater availability of the product in question and a good hard look at intellectual property laws globally.

The main complex part is getting companies and the public to agree with new laws for patents and copyrights, which is something I think will never happen in my lifetime. We live in a global economy, so I think the laws concerning IP should be established that way. The main problem now is without the public interest being taken into consideration, they are doomed to fail.

LDoBe (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Here’s the thing:

People don’t like seeing a good product wrapped in a turd sandwich. That’s what the entertainment distribution industry is doing. They have a great product on rye, then take a dump on top of that and hand it to you in a soiled diaper.

It doesn’t matter if there’s a good product in it, it’s still a shit sandwich, and nobody wants it.

Pirates have developed a way to perfectly de-shit the official industry sandwich, and distribute it for free.

Which would make you happier? Paying a lot for a shit sandwich you can only eat at a specific mealtime, on a specific plate, with only one choice of beverage? Or getting an illegal clean sandwich for free, whenever you’re hungry, and eat it however you want?


Anybody remember......

Anybody remember the same sort of nonsense 30 or so years back when everybody was putting up dish antennas to watch tv right off the satellites? For around a thousand dollars and up you could intercept the signals and watch (and record) all the cable stuff in the clear and for free. And what the movie people did to kill this innovation was every bit as outrageous as the piracy crap today. The dishes were “unsafe”, they needed “licenses” they caused property values to crash, etc. They even arrested people for “smuggling” evil circuit chips that would remove some transparent copy protection the movie channels eventually put on their signals. Even PBS scrambled their signal only to have hackers unscramble it. It wasn’t until little 2 foot dishes became available and satellite signals were legally sold for less than it cost to hack them that the big dishes all but disappeared. Of course that price has since gone up….a lot….but still. If the “big guys” couldn’t stop hackers that put 12 foot dish antennas on their roofs, how do they think they will ever stop a kid that needs nothing more than an internet connection and a 200 dollar beat-up computer.

Anonymous Coward says:

simple. it makes the entertainment industries think they are still in control. they do, however, fail to recognise that what they are retaining control of or regaining control of is an outdated media distribution method (plastic disks) that no one is interested in using any more. had they embraced the advances in technology and how people want to obtain media today, the relationship between producers and customers would have been reasonably amicable. however, believing still that what they are doing is right and that they know what customers want is actually bringing about their demise. shame it isn’t happening quicker, fucking morons!! take the latest journey into ridiculousness where those industries are trying to make out that skipping TV adverts is copyright infringement. give me a break, please!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Here’s you a clue and I’ll give it to you free.

I don’t care what musicians put out anymore. Not one penny for the majors. Since I don’t hear new music, I don’t desire it. Not to download it for free and certainly not to buy it. It honestly isn’t worth the bandwidth it takes to obtain it.

So the piracy is cured as far as I go. Then again the cure is worse than the ailment as I am not going to spend money for something I haven’t heard.

You got a signed band out touring? Too bad I’m not coming to the concert. You see I haven’t heard of you, don’t know what you do, and have no connections at all to your music.

Since you are in the same boat as the major label that paddles it, you can thank your masters for that lack of income. They have ensured you will never get my money as a results of their actions.

I can not wait for the day that I see the last major label up for sale because of bankruptcy.

Ian (profile) says:

Here's how it works:

Politicians put in a scary new law.

Short-term effect: Piracy goes down a bit. People are scared.

Longer-term effect: The motivations for the piracy still exist. People are still unable to access the content they want through legitimate means, and/or those legitimate means come with digital handcuffs that make this ‘availability’ unsuitable.

Result: People start looking for ways to continue to access material, but taking additional precautions. People figure out how to turn on privacy/anti-tracking/etc features in torrent clients, switch to private trackers, and various other means. Whether these means work or not is irrelevant, so long as thye provide some psychological comfort for the users. Downloading resumes.

Further, as a result of having invested the effort into taking the above precautions, people feel less responsible to support the artists, and more entitled to download material. So people who occasionally downloaded do so more frequently, and in larger quantities. You convert people who are casual downloaders into people who have made a commitment in terms of time and effort to become more serious downloaders.

In the longer term, tools to protect privacy get made more common, more easy to use, and more effective. But, again, whether they actually work is irrelevant. They only need to provide a safety blanket, and people are going to want to believe these measures work, because they want to continue to access content. Eventually, even the most timid people initially deterred by the new laws are back to it, convinced that the danger has passed.

Plus, the shrilling about piracy serves as an effective advertisement for it, so when someone who hasn’t downloaded before finds their favourite show/song/etc unavailable, they think, “well, what about downloading it illegally?”.

These measures are therefore ineffective at best, and self-defeating at worst (and the latter more often than the former).

Loki says:

If one wants to see the long term impact of personal infringement laws, all one really has to do is the criminalization of pot in the US.

Not only has pot’s criminalization has less than no effect (the prisons are full of pot users, to the point where there have been cases of more violent criminals getting early release to make room for mandatory sentencing laws), but there is evidence to show that continued effort to lump pot in with more dangerous/serious drugs like coke, heroin and meth has been one of the more significant factors in the failure of drug policies in the US.

I would hazard it is a reasonably safe bet to say that not only will current personal infringement efforts fail spectacularly, but continued efforts to lump them in with large scale counterfeiting, terrorism, and child porn will also hamper long term efforts to combat those more serious problems as well.

Of course when we are discussing organizations like Hollywood who are so blind to the fact that their interpretations of reality make them criminals as well (forming in California to bypass the patents of Edison and others), trying to have rational discussions is close to impossible.

Anonymous Coward says:

?The social pressure is close to non-existent.?

It’s not just close, it’s completely non-existent. I’m a Swedish student and during all my years of studying, teachers have been copying pages out of books and sometimes even copying the whole book. If someone mentions copyright to them there are three types of reaction:
a) chuckle
b) shrug
c) “Whatever”

Anonymous Coward says:

Evolution in action

The IPRED law from my personal perspective only have had one visible effect: Promoting the development and use of sneakernets and anonymity networks.

I live in Stockholm and file sharing is completely mainstream.

Four apartments in my vicinity cooperate on a local LAN network. We share 20 TB data.

Our anonymity needs are served by an outbound gigabit VPN.

We get all big releases from a local movie industry insider.

Copyright industry propaganda has had the opposite effect.

Don’t download from TPB translates into Just download from TPB.

PatM (profile) says:

I'm Learning

It’s been a liitle while since I signed up here at TechDirt and in that time I’ve learned quite a bit. There have been ao many times when a post will bring me back to ‘The Garden of Eden’ and that dreaded ‘Tree of Knowledge’ story. You know, where god tells Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of the tree or they will die, and Eve, told by the snake that that is a lie, eats the fruit and becomes self aware, then lures Adam into eating of the fruit as well, and they both discover their nakeness, and god, in seeing that, forces them to leave the garden. It always puzzles me why god would put a tree in their sight and then tell them never to eat of it if god didn’t already foresee that that would be the obvious outcome.
It’s the same story, retold over and over again, throughout the passages of time just under different circumstances, as I have found in many of the posts here. There’s also a phrase, ‘When will they ever learn’, from the song ‘Where have all the flowers gone’. I wonder, when will these industries and governmets ever get to the point where they learn that they can not tell others not to partake of the fruit that is plainly in their sight.
I hope I made some sense in all that.
Thank you TechDirt team, I really enjoy your postings.

The Logician says:

Re: I'm Learning

Your confusion about God’s reasons for placing the tree in the garden are understandable, PatM, and there is nothing wrong with that. He did so because he made us with free will, with the ability to choose. Otherwise, we could not love. You cannot know what love is if you do not know what it is not, and you cannot love if you cannot choose to love. But for such a choice to be possible, it must also be possible to choose not to love. Thus, he does not force us to love him, because to do so would be meaningless. He wishes us to be free sons and daughters, not puppets or automatons. Anyone can come to him if they choose to, no matter who they are or what they have done. Through his Son’s death and resurrection, we are reconciled to him if we accept it.

To return to the topic at hand, governments will not cease to abuse their authority until they are forced to do so. It would be better if that goal were achieved through financial starvation of the companies who influence them rather than outright rebellion. However, it is possible that such a revolt may be the only option. A last resort, if other methods fail. Starfleet captains, at least in the 24th century, only rely on phasers when diplomacy and other methods cannot resolve the situation. It would be advisable for us to follow the same course of action.

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