Swedish Rights Holders Order Police Raid To Shut Down Fan Translation Site

from the not-being-directly-monetized-by-us?-that's-a-raiding dept

The uneasy relationship between rights holders and fan translations just took another hit. Although there have been a few exceptions that recognize the value fan translations provide, the general response has been to shut down translation/subbing sites, even if they’re not making any infringing material available.

A Swedish translation site has been shut down by rights holders, this time with the cooperation of local law enforcement.

According to a local report, servers and computers belonging to the owners of Undertexter (which means “subtitle” in Swedish) have been seized by police. In a statement on Facebook, the Undertexter folks note that their service is powered completely by fan-made translations provided for free. And, remember, we’re talking about people sharing their own text translations for movies and shows they watched, not sharing the videos themselves.

Rather than view this service, provided for free by fans avid enough to spend their spare time translating movies and TV shows, as an indicator of an untapped market, the industry has chosen to assert its control. And rather than handle it in a fashion more suited to the level of “criminal” activity being performed, it instead chose to utilize a compliant police force to carry out a full-blown raid.

The crackdown just shows how powerful the copyright industry is in Sweden. As Rick Falkvinge writes, “In Sweden, the copyright industry can legally order police raids. They are called intrångsundersökning and are technically executed by the Enforcement Authority who enlist Police in turn.”

Falkvinge points out more in his post, calling this action a “clear escalation of violence.” The Swedish copyright industry has previously asserted that any fan translation would automatically be infringing as it owns the rights to the dialog, but had previously asserted its rights without resorting to raids by law enforcement.

Despite this show of force, the crew of Undertexter.se remains defiant.

Undertexter.se has had a police raid this morning (July 9) and servers and computers have been seized, and therefore, the site is down. We who work on the site don’t consider an interpretation of dialog to be something illegal, especially not when sharing it for free. Henrik Pontén [the copyright industry’s primary henchman in Sweden], who is behind the raid, disagrees. Sorry Hollywood, this was the totally wrong card to play. We will never surrender. […] We must do everything in our power to stop these anti-pirates. […]

Somehow, the industry seems to believe that its failure to capture a market should give it exclusive control over the area not being served. If that means no translated movies, so be it. There’s a wealth of free labor going into something that could be viewed as a value-added product, but viewing it through the stupidity-inducing lens of IP protection has rendered these translations “worthless” at best and a “threat” at worst in the eyes of the industry.

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Comments on “Swedish Rights Holders Order Police Raid To Shut Down Fan Translation Site”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

So, Sweeden = crime free country?

So I take it it’s safe to assume that crime in all other categories like assaults, armed robbery, fraud are all if not gone almost there, right?

I mean, if the IP industry in Sweden is allowed their own police force, which is then conducting raids on owners of fan translation sites that must mean that all serious crimes have been wiped out, leaving the police nothing else to spend their time and training on than ‘crime by technicality’ stuff like this, right?

Semi-related, I wonder what the ‘donation’ cost is for being allowed your own police force, that can’t have been cheap.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: So, Sweeden = crime free country?

“I wonder what the ‘donation’ cost is for being allowed your own police force, that can’t have been cheap.”

I’m sure Michael Bloomberg would know how much. But then again, he’s a billionaire. Probably just a drop in the bucket for him.

out_of_the_blue says:

Hollywood is not "anti-pirates", they're creators and owners.

Not a subtle difference. — Actually,that Hollywood IS the creators and owners seems widely resented here at Techdirt.

As to the translations: one krona will get ya ten if they’re NOT for pirated content. It’s facilitating piracy.

“We must do everything in our power to stop these anti-pirates.”

That’s why I made the tagline:
Where “I’m a pirate! You can’t stop me!” is one of the more thoughtful fanboy positions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Hollywood is clearly "anti-pirates" even if they're creators(maybe?) and owners.

“Hollywood is not “anti-pirates”, they’re creators and owners.

They aren’t the only ones. This is a translated work and not for commercial use. It adds value, is non-competitive (in a different market than the original) and I’d at least argue consideres fair use considerations (and at the very least due process).

What the problem here is that Hollywood has been able to use a police raid to shut down websites before any court case is heard and the sites are found to be guilty.

Due process says take them to court (or file a DCMA takedown notice), wait for a proper response, then go get them if it is illegal.

The scary part is that big business has the ability to buy a police raid if they don’t like something. They can essentially shut down other businesses (or in this case hobbies) without judicial oversight. This is allowed “because the pirates”. Just like “because the terrorists”, this seems to allow them to go around the law and get what they want.

Also, just because Hollywood is a content owners (I’ll argue to an extent about them being creators…), doesn’t mean they aren’t anti-pirates. The sheer fact they desire to go around the law to stop pirates is a pretty clear description of what it means to be “anti-pirates” to me…

RD says:

Re: Hollywood is not "anti-pirates", they're creators and owners.

“Hollywood is not “anti-pirates”, they’re creators and owners.”

Well, considering Hollywood was FOUNDED ON PIRACY (moving to avoid having to pay for tech that was patented to Edison; raiding wholesale the public domain for ideas, stories and characters; outright stealing ideas and stories from writers/creators and cheating them out of their rightful and agreed upon share of the profits, and sometimes even just basic pay for the work) then their “Creations” and “ownership” already belong to the public.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Hollywood is not "anti-pirates", they're creators and owners.

Confirmed true. Edison was the problem and they moved to California to get away from his lawyers.

As for “creators and owners,” neither of those statements is true based on Blue’s stated definitions. The producers and executives make most of the money while everybody else gets whatever is left afterwards. I know people who have taken part in making movies and, years afterwards, STILL haven’t been paid. Can we all agree that “the creators” are the ones pointing the cameras, operating the equipment, and working behind the scenes or in front of the cameras?

Anyone who thinks that these “minions” actually own the works they produce is an idiot. Or out_of_the_blue.

The “producers” (the ones raising the money and working to get the items and permissions required) or the production companies making the movies are the actual owners.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Hollywood is not "anti-pirates", they're creators and owners.

“one krona will get ya ten if they’re NOT for pirated content”

I have a huge number of downloaded subtitles. Some are for non-English language DVDs I have legitimately purchased for which I’d like to have subtitles in English or Spanish, which were not provided with the original. Some are subtitle tracks I’ve downloaded for English language movies I own on DVD or Blu Ray, but which don’t come with relevant subtitles for my Spanish girlfriend. While not from this particular site, I have no doubt that some if not most were used with legitimate content.

In other words, you’re a liar and your stupidity once again depends on a fantasy premise easily disproven by the very people you’re attempting to insult.

So, I’ve happy to accept your krona.

Anonymous Coward says:

Dearest Techdirt, what industry elements ordered this raid? I like to keep a list of companies I have a moral imperative to never give money too.

Don’t just outrage is with tales of our backwards European neighbors, who unlike us don’t bother to in any way conceal the role industry plays in law enforcement… Educate us, too!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

American sparetime is enjoyed by:

1. Baseball and particularly watching it since it makes obesity easier to maintain.

2. Suing the crap out of anyone. Some play lotteries, americans sue people.

3. Enraging europeans. There is nothing as beautyful as an angry person who doesn’t have a sufficiently grip of the american language!

In principle you can be enjoying all of the above, but calling Europeans backward on this ground is quite hypocritical. “As long as the industrys influence is “hidden” it is better!” Somehow you managed to make a comment that flies directly in the face of transparency in administration.

Anonymous Coward says:

US History Lesson: Stowe v Thomas

Excerpted from Pimps and Ferrets (116-121)

[United States] copyright law did not include the ability to control translations, dramatizations, or other derivative works until the Copyright Act of 1870. From the perspective of the law, Stowe?s absolute dominion over her creation ended at the moment of publication. U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Robert Cooper Grier, writing in his capacity as a circuit-riding trial judge for the U.S. Circuit Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania:

By the publication of Mrs. Stowe’s book, the creations of the genius and imagination of the author have become as much public property as those of Homer or Cervantes. Uncle Tom and Topsy are as much publici juris as Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. All her conceptions and inventions may be used and abused by imitators, playwrights and poetasters. They are no longer her own ? those who have purchased her book, may clothe them in English doggerel, in German or Chinese prose. Her absolute dominion and property in the creations of her genius and imagination have been voluntarily relinquished. All that now remains is the copyright of her book; the exclusive right to print, reprint and vend it, and those only can be called infringers of her rights, or pirates of her property, who are guilty of printing, publishing, importing or vending without her license, “copies of her book.” […] A translation may, in loose phraseology, be called a transcript or copy of her thoughts or conceptions, but in no
correct sense can it be called a copy of her book.

Grier?s 1853 decision was supplanted by the Copyright Act of 1870.

Anonymous Coward says:

What material is actually being made available, here? So if someone asks me for a translation or interpretation or definition in a language I speak I’m somehow “making available”?

“Making available” is a silly argument when the RIAA tried it, and the Swedish, MPAA version of it is making the point of why it’s ridiculous.

Ninja (profile) says:

If I had to make a list of the most despicable humans in the world Ponten would be near the top along with Kuik, Dodd, Bush, Eric Holder, Obama, Bernarke and others. I wouldn’t expect less from the likes of him. The very disturbing part here is the raid. First because the force is completely disproportionate. We are not talking about any drug dealing operation or something. Second if the law allowed such raid to happen (ie: they had warrants) then it is utterly broken.

We’ve seen that before on NZ haven’t we?

Anonymous Coward says:

absolutely disgraceful behaviour from the police as well as the entertainment industries here. no money to tackle ‘real’ crimes, but plenty to fund yet another whim of the industries. i read where a rape victim in Sweden was dismissed by police after 15 minutes, yet this most heinous of crimes, making subtitles for movies for free distribution gets the whole 9 yards. seems to me that priorities are a bit astray. when are governments and politicians going to wake up and put a halt to this crap? the industries lie through their teeth and the politicians accept it all. show a completely independent review and it’s ignored! we know why, so why doesn’t someone with the clout expose what’s going on?

special-interesting (profile) says:

Translations of foreign material/media/books/vidios/news/newspapers can be best described as freedom of the press with elements of freedom of speech included. How can such an innocuous thing be so important? Well. Its been almost 60 years since to world had to endure the obvious oppressiveness of the Nazi regime and few from repressive regime’s (Russia, China and North Korea are good examples) are permitted to speak of their horror experiences.

Was the word Nazi mentioned? Do you think thats too harsh? If the word censorship was used (and properly at that) but that would be sugar coating the main issue. The issue, is culturally based but, involves communication and trusted news and information translation sources.

At the heart of the news/information issue is trusted translation groups/societies/sources. Which seems obvious when stated as such but it goes, way so much, deeper. Deaf and Blind individuals rely on support groups to translate/interpret/animate auditory and visual real life situations along with stories/news/movies/songs/etc.

Because there are unlimited ways to translate from one foreign language to another…Translations are nothing but opinions. Opinions are fully legal in every way! No possible law, organization, political, firm or individual can assail this! NONE! (And if they do they should be simply tossed out.)

Have already made several posts mentioning this. (There are other posts about the Blind being victimized by industry, special interest vultures, but these mention trusted translation sources as an important consideration.)




The TD article title ?Swedish Rights Holders Order Police Raid To Shut Down Fan Translation Site? Says it all. Did the ?Rights Holders? consider the rights of the Deaf to have a trusted translation source in any way. Did they consider the rights of ordinary Swedish citizens to obtain a translation from another source than the movie/video/radio/media/etc?

What we are talking about are basic humanitarian rights. It’s an abuse to deny ANYONE a translation source that they can at least compare the official news/movie/radio/newspaper/etc translation with another more impartial source. Books are NO exception.

Note; because its easier to relate to written translations, have mostly articulated problems of copyright and translations for the Deaf. The Blind need to have verbally articulated translations of foreign media/news/movies/newspapers/books/etc also but its basically the same issue. Trusted translation sources are rare and even good sources need to be checked/compared/peer-reviewed.

The reasons for this are always the same. Would anyone trust some translation by the NSA about foreign or domestic spying activities as reported in another country’s language? Now could anyone trust a Nazi translation of how they treated their own Jewish communities? If Stalin provided translations of the ethnic cleansing of its own German and Jewish populations wouldn’t it be called a ?Siberian Education? instead of death?

There are many movies and documentaries that some misguided patriotic producer/firm/rights-holder might never want to give a true and accurate tranlstion for obvious commercial profit reasons. Also they might be forced by a fascist government to whitewash their criminal activities.

-Rant over- (will now actually read TD article…)

Its normal that any party that has proof and evidence of a crime can file a complaint with the local/regional police in an attempt at justice. Any individual or firm can do so with no problem except when they make up the evidence. If any firm or individual lies or exaggerates their claim they can be prosecuted and put in jail. (thats normal too)

Undertexter.se seems to be an exemplary translation site well within all laws and reasonable critical opinion a legal site. Not just a legal site but a vital Handicapped community resource!

The police did a raid on the servers/site? What damage did they do to the support community of the Deaf? What damage did they do to the ability of Swedish citizens to compare and critically review any ?official? translation? Please explain what societal benefit is conceivably obtained with this extremely violent behavior on normal, beneficial, Swedish cultural activities.

IP protection is a nonsense argument. The politically made up phrase ?Intellectual Property? (IP) seems to defy the Constitutionally guaranteed concept that Ideas are un-patentable, un-copyrightable, un-trademarkable and ownership deniable. (Note; Swedish law seems more Constitutional than US law these days so its a tough call from outside. Gomen!)

Surely there is some copyright based sickness growing withing the core of the Swedish justice system. Since it does not make any contribution to society or its various positive cultures some other reason must be examined.

If a court has to look beyond that then there is something else involved. Biased opinions are a polite way to say that some judge might have stock in Disney or other media firm? Possibly a membership in some media based protection society?

As Sherlock Holmes stated “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth” Bribes? Corruption? Bad attitude? Vigilantism?

These are not illusions when the needs of Swedish society (handicapped or otherwise) are trampled upon. What is really going on? (…)

Violence is always a bad thing whether from a terrorist, lone psychopath or duped police force. What matters most is freedom of the Press and freedom to disseminate opinions (translations) freely. It is a tragedy of justice that government sanctioned violence frequently (but not always) unpunished.

The raid on Undertexter.se definitely is classified as violence because it is a physical intervention. There can be no excuse given to justify the violent uprooting of a positive cultural activity contributing to society. These things are just not done by a healthy Democratic government.

The pirates can not be found in the members of the honest and just group undertexter.se. Hollywood itself is surely acting out the true roll of a pirate upon culture as they are stealing/taking/removing normal/good/positive/vital functions from society.

The creators and owners or the translations are undertexter.se and or the members themselves. Translations are fully covered under current copyright law as original works. For any copyright agency to shut down such a cool/great site is at the best hypocritical. At the, most likely, worst its a criminal activity called conspiracy or worse.

With current copyright law Hollywood can not really be considered creators nor contributors to culture and society. Nothing contained withing copyrighted works can be used withing the listener/viewer/reader lifetime. This is because the terms of copyright are longer than the lives of the audience. Again, it is Hollywood itself that is behaving as the real pirates.

Since it does not mention that undertexter.se has copyrighted their translations they are acting like heroes. If they do copyright the translations it will likely be some Creative Commons license hopefully the one with no restrictions.

The shutdown of undertexter.se is nothing but censorship and destruction of healthy positive culture. If Sweden ratifies a Blind AND Deaf treaty this activity would be covered under its umbrella of beneficial legal cultural activities. Here we have the crux of why Hollywood idiots want to destroy such a great and wonderful treaty.


AC1. It is likely that the Swedish police/enforcement-agencies have been whitewashed about the criminality of individuals stating their opinions/translations. Because of the (normal?) belligerence of typical police/enforcement agencies they will never admit fault. Even if convicted otherwise. (this is standard organizational behavior of which many books have been written about.)

AC2’s refference and quote from U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Robert Cooper Grier was brilliant and concise. It took the pirating activities of the copyright industry 17 years to overcome the reason and positive cultural logic.

Another AC3. The current insanity of making copyright violations a criminal offense is exactly that; Insanity. It makes EVERYONE a criminal for just snapping a photo with your cell phone.

For example lets say you are are visiting a foreign city and you ask directions from a native who then shows you a map which of course you then snap a quick picture of. Bingo! You are a criminal and might be thrown in some jail to be beaten up by both prisoners and prison guards just for annoying them with your presence.

Current copyright law is beyond anything a real Democratic society can permit.

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