The file-sharing case in Sweden and similar one in Bulgaria

A few days ago the Swedish police confiscated the biggest file-sharing server in Sweden (and may be in the world) – “The Pirate Bay”.

I spotted sevreal articles on that topic, the most interesting ones are at the IHT and the Financial Times. See for yourself some parts of them.

“Robert Brannstrom, the editor of the widely read technology Web site idg.se, said that the raid “smelled a little of China” and that the “strange, confrontational route” that the movie industry had taken meant the battle against piracy was already lost.”

The IHT has a large piece by Ivar Ekman.

Here are some interesting moments from that article:

“The operators of The Pirate Bay have publicly ridiculed copyright holders and taunted law enforcement for years, claiming immunity to copyright laws,” the Motion Picture Association of America said. “The actions today taken in Sweden serve as a reminder to pirates all over the world that there are no safe harbors for Internet copyright thieves.”
But as the dust begins to settle on the empty racks where The Pirate Bay’s impounded servers had been stacked, the effects of the raid no longer appear so straightforward. There are signs of a backlash, underscoring a deep rift between the government and industry stance on copyright laws in the Internet era and the more liberal views held by Sweden’s technology-savvy youth.

Criticism of the police action has not been confined to those actively advocating piracy. Robert Brannstrom, the editor of the widely read technology Web site idg.se, said that the raid “smelled a little of China” and that the “strange, confrontational route” that the movie industry had taken meant the battle against piracy was already lost.

In the Swedish media, the focus quickly shifted from the piracy issue to the fact that the police impounded not only the computer servers that host The Pirate Bay but also a large number of unrelated servers, effectively shutting down Web sites of small businesses and organizations that had nothing to do with file sharing.
“Just impounding everything in sight is pretty difficult to defend,” Brannstrom said. “It’s a little like using a crowbar to break into a glass house.”

“A hundred years ago we were Christians,” said Henrik Ponten, a lawyer with Antipiratbyran, a Swedish antipiracy organization financed by the movie and games industries. “Today we are file sharers.”

Antipiratbyran filed the initial complaint against The Pirate Bay, but while Ponten said he was “happy” with the raid, he evinced disappointment at the debate that followed. “Every time this debate happens, we end up getting all the blame,” he said.

While the debate continued to build, the two main operators of The Pirate Bay, Fredrik Neij and Gottfrid Svartholm, were busy resurrecting their site. It was back on line this weekend as www.ThePirateBay.org and was operating using servers based in an unspecified location in the Netherlands.

and the Financial Times reported what happened after the site was raided:

The calm of Stockholm’s streets was interrupted at the weekend as protesters carrying the skull and crossbones campaigned against the closure of Pirate Bay, one of the world’s most popular sites for downloading free movies on the internet.

The Motion Picture Association of America lobby group, working with US government officials in Sweden, filed a criminal complaint to shut down Pirate Bay in 2004, but had become exasperated by the subsequent lack of action.

It even branded Sweden a “safe harbour” for copyright infringement in spite of its ban last year on the sharing of copyrighted material online without payment of royalties.

Saturday’s demonstrations captured the tension between [the Swedish] online community and the film and music industries, which claim to be losing billions of dollars a year in copyright crime.

The raids have also sent ripples across Sweden’s political world after it was alleged in local media that the government conducted the raid only after being told to do so by the US authorities. The government denied these claims.

I think this is also the case in Bulgaria, where a week before that the police arrested for a few hours two men, named “major European Web pirates”. See ZDNet on that case. Bulgarian lobby groups like BSA are heavily influencing the police actions. That’s bad, because usually they do it not for real results (e.g. court sentences), but for PR purposes. The fact is that the two major cases – about the Matrix Internet clubs, and the DSKbank web site – have ended with announcing the acused as not guilty. So, after too much noise, the police is the actual victum of the lobbyst groups.
Truth is, the major labels do not want to change their business model, and that’s killing them. They still don’t want to accept the world has changed. What the society considered a crime just a few years ago, it’s not like that anymore. And in order for authors to get paid, the RIAA and MPAA should create a pro-active model of working in accordance with the laws of the Internet, not against them. They can delay the change in the copyrigh system, but they can’t stop it.

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