by Mike Masnick
Thu, Sep 20th 2012 1:01pm
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Sep 6th 2012 1:41am
Did The US & Sweden Team Up To Get Cambodia To Arrest The Pirate Bay Founder... About Something Unrelated To TPB?
from the wouldn't-put-it-past-them dept
Either way, let's start with the basics. First, Cambodia has admitted that it will be deporting Svartholm, even though there's no extradition treaty between Cambodia and Sweden. Of course, deportation and extradition are not the same thing, and you don't need an extradition treaty to deport someone. But it is still notable.
But then there are two bits of news that seem like quite the coincidence. First up: Ron Kirk, the US Trade Rep, and the main US government official responsible for ACTA and the TPP... just happened to be in Cambodia the very day that Svartholdm was arrested... and, the very next day, Sweden just happened to announce a $59 million "aid package" with Cambodia. Is it any wonder that some are asking if Sweden basically paid Cambodia to arrest Svartholm... and if the US had a helping hand in all of this?
At this point, it certainly could all be a coincidence -- which is the direction I tend to lean for the time being -- but it is quite a coincidence. We already know that the US government has been heavily involved in getting Sweden to put The Pirate Bay on trial. In fact, the US's deep involvement in Swedish copyright laws and policies has been a source of friction with some Swedish officials. Furthermore, Ron Kirk's entire role is about negotiating agreements and treaties between countries -- so the fact that a Swedish/Cambodia deal came together just as he was in the country? It certainly wouldn't be shocking to find out that he had a hand in making the deal happen.
But, let's add in one more bit of info. Svartholm's fellow TPB'er Peter Sunde is claiming that the arrest is not related to The Pirate Bay, though other reports claim otherwise. Some other friends are also insisting that it's not related to TPB, though I will admit to being skeptical. More surprising, perhaps, is Sunde's suggestion that the arrest may actually have more to do with Wikileaks, which Svartholm's company used to host, rather than The Pirate Bay... Of course, if that's the case, it doesn't discount the involvement of the US or Sweden (and might only reinforce it). Though it does add an element of... oddity to the whole situation.
Of course, even if the arrest is about something else, if he does end up being shipped back to Sweden, the TPB issue won't just go away. And it's likely that whoever is involved -- whether it's these other two governments or not -- recognizes that as well.
Update: TorrentFreak is now reporting that the arrest is about a tax hack:
Svartholm’s arrest is related to a hacking operation that may date back to 2010.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jul 24th 2012 5:02am
Pirate Party ALMOST Ejected From Festival For Giving Out Free Waffles After Vendors Selling Waffles Complained (Updated)
from the waffle-waffle dept
One of the key things that we find in story after story around here is that those who have a particular business model seem to think that any disruption of that business model must be illegal (or, worse, immoral). Sometimes instances of this come from strange places. For example, the Swedish Young Pirates officially set up shop at a local municipal festival, where they had permission to make food and give it to attendees. They started making waffles and giving them away for free. What they didn't realize was that others at the festival were trying to sell waffles, and they complained. The end result? Almost bye bye, young pirates (see update above). Yes, they
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jul 16th 2012 12:31pm
from the really-now? dept
As TorrentFreak notes, this is odd for a variety of reasons. Beyond it being strange that anyone would think that a plea for a pardon is "offensive, inflammatory or otherwise objectionable," the petition site on Avaaz appears to have plenty of things that would be much more likely to cause offense to some people. TorrentFreak reasonably wonders why, of all the petitions on Avaaz, did it happen to pick out the Sunde one?
But I'd argue it goes even further than that. Why should Avaaz even be asking if petitions are "offensive, inflammatory or otherwise objectionable"? If someone posts such a petition, wouldn't it take care of itself by the fact that people won't sign it? Trying to pre-determine if a petition is acceptable seems to go against the very setup of an open petition site like Avaaz's.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jul 13th 2012 11:11am
from the in-the-pirate-bay's-home-country dept
This even has the labels (who, yes, have an equity position in Spotify -- more on that in a bit) talking about how they're making more money than they have in a long, long time, thanks to Spotify:
“We’re back to the same revenue levels as during 2004, and if the development continues in the same way we’ll be back on turnover similar to those during the “golden days” of the CD in just a few years,” says Universal Music Sweden’s MD Per Sundin.Now, I've learned to take any claims from the major labels with a grain of salt, and there are some clear issues with Spotify. People have complained that the deals favor the majors so they get a larger cut than the indies. That's definitely a problem. Others insist that Spotify doesn't pay enough -- but multiple studies keep finding that, on a per listen basis, Spotify actually pays quite nicely. There may still be significant issues with how the labels pass that money on to artists, however.
“We’ve seen massive change in music consumption, where music fans are now listening to more music than ever, in an entirely legal environment. This means that revenues are increasing all the time, and artists get paid every time their music is played. Our artists get significant revenues from Spotify, which is our biggest income source for Sweden. A positive side effect is that we’re investing a lot in new talent.”
Mark Dennis, CEO of Sony Music Sweden, makes the same point: “One of the most gratifying consequences of this is that it gives us the opportunity to sign more artists, and record more new Swedish music than ever. In fact, for most of our artists, streaming music now represents the majority of the revenue.”
The point of this isn't to say that "Spotify" is the answer. There are, clearly, some questions about that particular service. But it certainly shows that there are solutions that very effectively compete with free, and as they grow, they can certainly help make significant money for the copyright holders. Spotify, of course, had a head start in Sweden, and the adoption rates there are incredible. However, the point is pretty clear: let new services like Spotify grow and thrive and effectively compete with free, and they will do so -- and the business issues seem to pretty quickly sort themselves out. Obviously having even more competition would be a good thing as well, as competitors will keep trying to offer something even better (and put pressure on Spotify to advance as well).
In the end, though, Spotify is a classic case of giving the public what they want, rather than what the industry wants them to have. And yet, in doing so, it's also now providing massive revenues for the industry -- even as people continue to insist that such a result is impossible.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jul 9th 2012 10:01am
the pirate bay
from the convicted-for-doing-what-now? dept
The serious conflicts of interests of many involved in the case have been covered before. The fact that the lead prosecutor was hired by the entertainment industry while he was still prosecuting the case, remains an astounding point that should have resulted in a clear mistrial. That multiple judges had strong connections to copyright maximalist groups or even competitors to The Pirate Bay should also be of great concern. However, even if we ignore all of that, Sunde's detailed explanation for his conviction is really quite incredible. He notes that he was specifically convicted of three things... which he did not do. Remember, Peter's role was as that of a spokesperson. He did not actually work on the technology of the site at all, but the prosecution needed to show that he did -- so Peter accuses them of concocting a story about how he set up a "load balancer" for the site, because he admitted that he knew what a load balancer was. However, as Peter notes (1) he did not set up a load balancer, (2) the server in question was put there by someone unrelated to The Pirate Bay and (3) it was never connected to the internet anyway. And yet he was still convicted because of it.
I know that some who dislike The Pirate Bay won't care about the specifics here. They'll argue that the site itself is pure evil, and he was deservedly convicted. I think that, if you agree with the court's basic reasoning for the convictions, you might be able to make a credible case against the two actual founders of the site who ran it. But Peter wasn't one of those guys. He was just "the spokesperson," and it appears that he got railroaded here, based on a very questionable use of the law.
Among other things, I’m supposed to have installed a computer that operated as a so-called load balancer – a computer that makes it possible to distribute the workload of big web services among different computers. It reads clear as day in the Appeals Court verdict that I’m responsible for configuring this computer. Such a computer did indeed exist in one of the racks that The Pirate Bay was located in. On the other hand, it wasn’t connected with a single wire or cable in any way. Some computers have been investigated at the National Forensic Laboratory (Statens Kriminaltekniska Laboratorium). Some computers have been combed for details. In some cases, the prosecutor has called owners of computers to ask them if they want to press charges of electronic trespassing against Gottfrid Svartholm, as they found that he has had access to computers. Computers he has been maintaining for clients. The computer I’m supposed to have been responsible for isn’t mentioned with a single line of text, except in the seizing protocol from the raid. I cannot find the configuration I’ve been convicted of creating. The configuration I have created, beyond reasonable doubt, according to the Swedish Appeals Court. The configuration I can say with 100% certainty would have proven that this computer had never been used for The Pirate Bay. The owner had placed it in the rack by themselves just a few weeks prior to the raid.
During the Appeals Court proceedings, prosecutor Hakan Roswall confirmed my story of this, that this machine had never been used in the operations of The Pirate Bay. Therefore, my lawyer put no energy into bringing it up in his final statement. And yet, Roswall said after this, that I had been responsible for it. And in the end, I was convicted because of it. There is not a shred of evidence anywhere that this computer has been in use, not for anything at all
Of course, he admits that it's unlikely his plea will work, and he fully expects to spend some time in jail. However, as for the fine that's been levied against him, he notes that the 11 million euros he will owe is "fantasy numbers" that he knows is unpayable, meaning that he's likely to be effectively banished from Sweden, noting that "this debt is equivalent to exile, to deportation."
Separately, Peter posted a much shorter blog post, which I'm trusting the Google translation feature on -- so I warn you that accuracy may be slightly sketchy. In it, Peter notes that the prosecution has effectively admitted that he didn't actually do the stuff he was convicted of, but claims that doesn't change his responsibility. Seriously. Here's the rough automated translation:
That the work of the Court of Appeal found Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi begun in late 2005 may not have resulted in actual service until the time of the raid against TPB, does not affect the responsibility of the act for which Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi convicted.In other words, he didn't provide the actual services he was convicted of, but that doesn't make him any less responsible for the things he didn't actually do. Swedish justice in action.
by Glyn Moody
Tue, Jun 26th 2012 10:13am
from the freedom-of-speech,-what's-that? dept
One of the the reasons why legislation like SOPA and treaties like ACTA are so dangerous is that their loose definitions allow measures intended to deal with copyright infringement to be used to censor inconvenient opinions. Unfortunately, that's not just a theoretical problem with future legislation, but one that is already happening, as this post from Rick Falkvinge makes clear:
Greenpeace protests an oil company with a parody site. The oil company files a lawsuit against the ISP of Greenpeace, claiming copyright monopoly violation of the company’s look and feel. The ISP shuts down the Greenpeace protest site immediately, complying with the threat from the oil company, without fighting the lawsuit or waiting for the court. Yup: the abuse-friendly copyright monopoly is now abused by oil companies to suppress Greenpeace, too.
You can compare the original Web site, from a company called Neste Oil, with a (modified) screenshot of Greenpeace's version. The original parody site was located at nestespoil.com, a play on the nesteoil.com domain name. The company's not happy about that either:
Nestespoil.com parodies the Annual report 2011 of Neste Oil and criticizes the company’s biodiesel business that aggravates forest destruction. Neste Oil has made a complaint to WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) in which it tries to get Greenpeace’s Nestespoil.com domain for itself.
But it's the claim of copyright infringement that's more interesting. That's because the legal action against Greenpeace's ISP, Loopia, tries to address the issue of parody. The document (original pdf in Swedish) says that Greenpeace was seeking to stir up a "political debate", and claims that such "political propaganda" loses the protection of parody, and is therefore infringing on Neste Oil's copyright.
IANAL, and certainly not a Swedish lawyer, so I've no idea if that's true, although it would be disturbing it if were, since parody is an important part of political discourse. In any case, it's troubling that copyright is being used in this way to shut down legitimate debate about important issues like energy policy and deforestation.
And there's another concern, which is highlighted in an interesting offer by the Swedish ISP Binero to host Greenpeace's parody site:
As a Swedish web host shut down the Greenpeace parody site Nestespoil.com after a law suit from Neste Oil, competitor Binero invited Greenpeace in, with the new site Nestespoilreturns.com. Binero considers the EU E-commerce directive 2000/31/EG and the consequent local laws to be absurd and that all sites must be allowed to have their legality tried by authorities. Current laws put web hosts, ISPs and other middle men at risk of being sued for damages unless they immediately shut down sites in unclear cases. Large corporations can stop sites simply by threatening middle men and we believe this is a threat to free speech.
That's a hugely important point at a time when supporters of copyright maximalism are belittling people's concern that proposals like SOPA and ACTA will lead to censorship. That's not because of any claimed "right" to make unauthorized copies, but because those laws will be abused to shut down commentary sites in the same way that Greenpeace's was muzzled.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Jun 14th 2012 10:14am
from the what's-next,-rickrolling? dept
This has, not surprisingly, received a fair bit of media attention, with people questioning what happened.
Of course, the most obvious answer is that Sweden handed its Twitter account over to a troll. The topic choices are so troll-worthy that it's hard to believe that the person behind the account is genuinely saying these things. It seems quite clear that it's standard troll behavior: say stupid stuff to get people to react -- and tons of people are feeding the troll in response. The really stunning part, of course, is that the folks who manage the account didn't realize this ahead of time. As multiple people have pointed out, Sonja's own blog has plenty of evidence of similar trolling activities on a smaller scale.
And, perhaps, the Swedish tourist board actually did this on purpose. A spokesperson defended giving Sonja control of the account:
“It’s very important for us to let everyone take a unique viewpoint,” said Tommy Sollen, Social Media Manager at VisitSweden, in a phone interview. “Every one of our curators is there with a different perspective.” ....So they seem to recognize that trolling is a "brand of humor." And I'm surprised that no one has yet mentioned the fact that the NY Times article was sent from the town of Trollhattan, Sweden. It's like they were born to troll...
“Some of them have been talking about music, some of them have been talking about food,” he said. “Sonja is more focused on her own brand of humor and asking probing questions.”
Of course, if Sweden is going to let @Sweden be trolled, it was only a matter of time until Stephen Colbert asked for control of the account, and urged the Colbert Nation to convince the Swedish tourism bureau to allow non-Swedes to control the account -- something they've said they might consider "in the future."
by Mike Masnick
Fri, May 25th 2012 1:37pm
from the of-course-not dept
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?
Thu, May 24th 2012 2:31pm
from the two-internets dept
"The stakes are extraordinarily high, this has been an incremental crisis for a long time but now it's an actual crisis," said Crawford, whose book analyzing these issues, Captive Audience, will be published in November. The central issue is the so-called digital divide and what Crawford refers to as the "looming cable monopoly." Due to deregulation, which was predicated on the premise that the free market and competition would protect consumers, cable companies have found themselves with an inordinate amount of power to control the Internet and broadband access while, at the same time, traditional phone companies like AT&T are struggling to keep up and veering towards wireless services.
To support her thesis, Crawford presented some stunning numbers. In the last two years, Comcast market share has grown from 16.3 million subscribers to 18.5, a 14 percent growth. Time Warner Cable has grown 10 percent, from 9.2 to 10.7 million customers. Meanwhile, DSL subscribers have plummeted: AT&T and Verizon market share is down 22 and 21 percent respectively.
So, while it's good to be Comcast, it's not good to be an American citizen. Without competition, there's no drive to improve the service. The average speed of an Internet connection in the United States is around 5Mbit/s. An astoundingly low number if you look at other western countries. South Korea, for example, has an average of 50Mbit/s. And faster connections are starting to be implemented around the world. One gigabit connections are available in countries like Japan, Portugal or Sweden and at much better prices than in the U.S. – in Hong Kong, connecting at one gigabit per second costs $26 a month while in Chattanooga, TN, it costs $350.
What does this mean to the average citizen? It means the United States are giving up their leadership. Crawrford said this means “the next Google won't come from America.” And, even within U.S. borders, there's a fundamental problem: you either pay premium for a mediocre service or you are left behind.
“We end up with two Internets, two societies in America,” Crawford said to me in an interview.
One America does some tweeting and Facebook on their inferior, slower wireless devices. The other America not only gets to enjoy video online, but they can also apply for jobs, do video-conferencing, get an education online and, ultimately, live in the 21st century. Crawford argues that this digital divide ends up creating inequality between the haves and have-nots in America.
The only solution, Crawford argues, is for the government to intervene and regulate. Internet access, particularly high-speed access, should be treated “as a utility, just as electricity, gas and water.” Doing so would make the Internet a natural monopoly in which the government would provide the pipe and guarantee equal opportunity of access to everybody.
It might not happen immediately, but Crawford hopes that, with her influence and that of other thinkers like her, this will come to the forefront of the public discussion. She believes that, eventually, in every district, there will be elected officials who understand and care about these issues. That will be when we'll be able to look for a solution. "We make this a voting issue, that's how we fight back."