2006-12-19

Traffic monitoring and bugging in Sweden

Minister of Justice Beatrice Ask, who used to be one of the sharpest critics of Thomas Bodström on the question of data trafic monitoring, have now made a complete U-turn and says that storing of trafic data is to be implemented in Sweden.

This directive means that information about all Swedish telephone calls, SMSs, emails, cell phone calls are to be stored if the police needs it. From being illegal to store for matters of personal integrity, tele and internet operators are now being legally forced to store theis information for the judicial bodies. Whoever you call, when, and from where, is now going to be registered. Yes, from where. Cell phones with be continually checked for location, and movements will be registered and stored.

This is a breech of integrity of a scale that is unheard of in the world. Never before, a state has created a complete database of how its citizens are moving,

Youth organisation Young Pirate launched

This weekend saw the foundation of Young Pirate, the youth section to the Swedish Pirate Party. It is to be headed Hugi Ásgeirsson from the town of Kiruna. It will be open to everyone under the age of 26, who can choose to also be members of the Pirate Party.

I will come back with more information as soon as there is more to get.

File sharing is increasing - don't believe them!

The Anti-Piracy Bureau claims that piracy is decreasing in Sweden.

"The statistics we have shows that the trials we have had has given a lot of effect. This is a typical crime where trials given much attention has a preventive effect", says the senior judicial advisor Henrik Pontén. [...] "We keep up our work as before. Our focus has always been on the large distributors, not individuals - even if those cases have gotten the most media attention."


This is the kinds of arguments that are used to get an exclusion from legislation meant to protect privacy. But are their arguments true?

1) As I pointed out three days ago, the APB have seemed to concentrate on getting trials for the most leanient forms of copyright infringements.

2) Their campaign is not working. According to new figures made by SCB (Statistics Sweden), the Swedish government agency on stats, one out of every five persons have used file sharing programs in one way or the other. This is an increase since last year, where the same figure was 18%.

So there we have it - the APB is concentrating on ordinary people. And file sharing is increasing. But the special interest group APB becomes exceptions in that they can store personal information and perform private police investigations, because they claim they go after the "big game" and that their methods are working.

2006-12-16

Swedish anti pirate lobby allowed prolonged exclusion from integrity legislation

IFPI and the Anti Piracy Bureau has been granted a prolonged permission to store IP addresses, according to a desicion made in the Data Inspection board of Sweden. This means that they are partially excluded from legislation that prevents individuals, groups and authorities to store data that has ties to personal integrity.

The Anti Piracy Bureau has made themselves famous for private investigations, organized citizens arrest and suspicion of provoking crimes, as well as basing their cases on screenshots. Screenshots can be forged, even as simply as in a matter of a script on a webpage, and should have no credibility as evidence, but has actually been used to sentence people for copyright infringements.

When the Anti Piracy Bureau applied for an exclusion the last time, they claimed that they wanted the exclusion to try "particularily grave cases of copyright infringment". But the cases they have tried since then has all been about the one movie shared without any commercial interests, i.e. the leanest forms of copyright infringement that exists in Swedish law. Instead of noticing, or caring about, this obvious slide of purpose and obvious change of facts in the last application, and instead of making a case out of it or demanding some form of explanation, the Data Inspection board has, as mentioned above, decided to prolong the exclusion.

What is more worrying than the fact that Swedish judicial authorities are excluding special interest groups from legislation in their particular area, and giving them the opportunity to perform their own private police investigations, is the motivation given by the Data Inspection board:

Datainspektionen bedömer att organisationernas insamling av bland annat IP-nummer inte innebär någon otillbörlig kränkning av den personliga integriteten. Båda organisationerna har i uppdrag att tillvarata sina medlemmars ekonomiska och rättsliga intressen. Till skillnad från tidigare får bland annat Antipiratbyrån efter årsskiftet även behålla uppgifter som redan lämnats till polisen.

"The board believes that the collection of for example IP addresses does not lead to any unacceptable transgressions of personal integrity. [...] As of now, the Anti Piracy Bureau can also keep information already given to the police." (Link - Swedish)


Which means that not only are this special interest group excluded from the law against private policing, they can also keep archives of data they have gathered - data that according to Swedish law is concidered significant to personal integrity."

It uses, as an argument, that storing this information does not endanger said personal integrity. Which means that there's not really a point of such a law in the first place - why issue a law that says that you can't store personal data because it endangers personal integrity, and then give special interest groups the privilledge to store the same data - because it doesn't endager personal integrity?

2006-11-28

Stopping terrorism vs blocking internet traffic - In the EU

In Mid-August the Vice-President of the European Commission, Franco Frattini, commented on websites that can be used for terrorism. He concluded that the aim was to make the Internet an "hostile environment" for terrorists. “I think it’s very important to explore further possibilities of blocking websites that incite to commit terrorist actions,” he said.

So, the Spy Blog wrote to Frattini asking on just how they figured they would do that, putting forward a list of 17 questions on the topic. What they received recently were a lenghty reply that essentially included numerous avaisive statements.

Basically, the commission seems to know approximately what it wants to do, but it has no idea on how to do it.

However, one point is interesting - they don't seem to rule out much, right now. On the first question asked,

Are you proposing a European Union version of the national level firewall content filtering and censorware software such as is used in the 'Great firewall of China' or in Saudi Arabia and other repressive regimes?


the reply is:

At such an early stage of our consultations it would be premature to speak about a specific solution...


As in, "We don't know yet, but we are not ruling out the possibility that we might build a Great Firewall of Europe."

But they are also quick to add:

the European Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law. In consequence, policy options undermining such principles will be necessarily ruled out.


Which means that the commission might try to build up a firewall that filters out dangerous materials but maintains our basic democratic values. Which are two interesting principles to let oppose each other.

As concluded, the European Commission wants to make the Internet hostile grounds for terrorism. This obviously raises the old question of wether it's okay for democracy to overrule itself for self-protective reasons, as in: is it okay to set aside democratic principles to defend democratic principles, and who decides what is set aside to protect what.

In any case, watchdogness is called for, because even if people can be trusted enough to act without monitoring, authorities has proved that they obviously can not. Which means that we might want to watch out, lest some politicians might in the future tell a couple of network security experts what European citizens can and can not access on the world wide web.

Disclaimer: Some of this post has been shamelessly stolen from theRegister. I urge everyone to read this article as well.

2006-08-29

School to Fingerprint All Students

A London school is to embark on a trial to fingerprint 1,500 children when they return to school. Holland Park School is believed to be one of the first schools in the UK to seek to fingerprint every pupil in an effort to monitor their attendance.


This definately made me choke on my coffee. The United Kingdom steps one more step towards 1984. The first victims are the children.

read more | digg story

Excerpt from the Pirate Party election program

On August 28, the Pirate Party of Sweden made their election program official. An introduction stating the ideas and ideology behind their program, the party stated their program for the election in a number of concrete points. The program consists of a total of 15 pages, and should be the most concrete and factual of the programs presented by parties running in the elections.

Below is a translation I made of the introduction.

The Pirate Party Election Manifesto 2006

Preface
The election program of the Pirate Party consists of various nautical charts, describing what we want to do in each of the areas within the Pirate Party policies. These charts are divided in sections based on deadline and what is to be done on a Swedish and on a European level.

As an introduction to these charts, we describe our ideology and our main policies.



Protected integrity in an open society
The development of technology has made sure Sweden and Europe stand before a fork in the road. The new technology offers fantastic possibilities to spread culture and knowledge all over the world with almost no costs. But it also makes way for the building of a society monitored at a level unheard of up untill now.

In no time, the monitoring state has advanced its positions strongly in Sweden. This development threatens equality and safety before the law, and nothing indicates that it even adds to security. The Pirate Party believes this is the wrong way to go.

The right to privacy is a corner stone in an open and democratic society. Each and everyone has the right to respect for one's own private and family life, one's home and one's correspondense. If the constitutional freedom of information is to be more than empty words on a paper, we much defend the right for protected private communication.

The arguments for every individual step towards a monitoring society may sound very convincing, but we only have to look at the recent history of Europe to see where that road leads. It is less than twenty years since the fall of the Berlin wall, and there are numerous other terrible examples. To claim that it's only those with something to hide that has anything to fear is simply lacking knowledge of history, and lacking courage.

We have no problem with police monitoring and spying on suspected criminals. That is exactly what the police is suppose to be doing. But routinely monitoring ordinary citizens hoping for something suspicious to turn up is not only a gross violation of the privacy of honest people. It is also a waste of valuable police resources.

Vi måste dra i nödbromsen på det tåg som skenar mot ett samhälle vi inte vill ha. Terrorister kan attackera det öppna samhället, men bara regeringar kan avskaffa det. Piratpartiet vill se till att det inte händer.

We have to pull the emergency break on the train running towards a society we don't want. Terrorists can attack our open society, but only governments can disband it. The Pirate Party wants to ensure that this doesn't happen.


Private communication and file sharing
A driving force behind the current monitoring hystery is the entertainment business, which wants to prevent people from file sharing copyrighted material. But to achieve this all private communication must be monitored. To know what ones and zeros make up a movie, the ones and zeros has to be analyzed. It is the same sort of ones and zeros that is sent, regardsless of if it makes up a piece of music, or a letter to a doctor or a lawyer.

Therefor society ha to choose: do we want a possibility to trustingly communicate over the Internet to exist?

If your answer is yes, it means that also those that shares copyrighted material can use these possibilities.

If you answer is no, it means that you abolish the right of information, the right to mail secrecy and the right to a private life.

There are no other answers.

It is not possible to claim that society should allow mail secrecy for certain purposes, but not for others, since it is impossible to separate the different cases without breeching the secrecy. It is the same types of ones and zeros being used, and only by opening the message, it is possible to see what it contains.

The current copyright legislation can not be combined with freedom of information and protected private communication. Since the fundamental principles of the open, democratic society is more important than conserving old business models within the business of entertainment at all costs, copyright has to fold.

But this is not negative. A reformed copyright legislation, expressing a balance between different interests in society instead of being an order form from the large media companies, has its own benifits. It is a possibility for Sweden and Europe, not a threat.


The spreading of culture and knowledge is a positive thing
Thanks to the Internet it is today possible for everyone with a computer to take part of a fantastic treasure of culture and knowledge.

Instead of being limited to a cultural canon decided from above, the youths of today has access to the music, theater and pictures of an entire world. This is something we should embrace, not something we should try to forbid. File sharing is good for society and its people.

All non-commercial aquiring, using, bettering and spread of culture should be actively encouraged. The Internet is filling the same function today as popular education did a hundered years ago. It is something positive and good for the development of society.

The copyright legislation must be changes so that it is made perfectly clear that it only regulate use and copying of works done for commercial purposes. To share copies, or in any other way spread or use someone else's work, should never be forbidden as long as it is done on an idealistic basis without the purposes of commercial gain.

Unfortunately, the legislation has developed in quite the opposite direction. On July 1, 2005, a million ordinary Swedes were suddenly turned into criminals over night, simply because they download movies and music. This doesn't only hurt our possibilities to take part of culture. In the long run it undermines the trust of our entire judicial apparatus. This development has to end.

In a similar fashion, patents are used to inhibit the spread and use of knowledge, which hurts society as a whole.

Medical patents makes people in porr countries die for no reason. It twists the priorities in research and makes the costs for medications a problem in every health care budget.

Software patents inhibits technical development within the info tech area and preresents a serious threat against small as well as mid-sized businesses and individual developers. They run the risk of putting the power over the Internet completely in the hands of a small number of multi national businesses.

We want to release knowledge, and have specific suggestion on how to avoid the negative consequences that the patent system means.

Sweden and Europe has everything to gain from choosing the path of openness.


No other issues
The Pirate Party does not have any policies on issues that traditionally concerns the left-right scale, or any other issues outside of our program of policieis.

We particularily does not concern ourselves with the division of wealth. We are not after dividing money between different groups in society. None of our propositions costs any money for the state, and several of them may potentially save money in the budget. Because of this, we can place ourselves outside of the struggle concerning the budget, with good faith, and leave it to the old parties.

We are ready to support a social democratic as well as a non-socialist government, och we claim that both Göran Persson as well as Fredrik Reinfeldt are well capable of taking the role as the head of government in a satisfactory manner. We do not believe that the differences between them are that big, in reality, and everyone of us are ready to live with any of them as our prime minister.

The only thing that concerns us, is the protection of our open society and democracy, that the march towards a controlled society is cancelled, and that culture and knowledge are set free.

Our goal is to reach the parliament and being in a position where we can tip the scale. If we succeed in this we will talk to both Göran Persson and Fredrik Reinfeldt alike. We will explain what we want, and point out that our policies in no way differs from either traditional social democratic policy or traditional liberal/non-socialist policy.

After that, we will support the person aspiring to form a government, who is ready to make the best deal with us on our policies. On any matter outside of our policy statement, we will support and vote for the current government, no matter what we believe individually on different matters.

Due to the fact that we do not have a view on everything on this earth, but concentrate completely on the issues where we have formed a policy, we can promise a result if we make it to the house of parliament in a scale-tipping position. That makes us unique in Swedish political history.

We are the only party that will never deal away our free and open society for the benifit of any other issue or interest.



More on the Pirate Party tipping the scale
The Pirate Party does not take a stand in issues generally associated with the right or left, or any other issues that are not part of our declaration of principles. We are ready to support a socialdemocratic as well as a non-socialist government. The only thing that concerns us is that the march towards a controlled society is cancelled, and that culture and knowledge in society are set free,

On of the factions within Swedish politics has really anything to lose in reality by satisfiying more or less all of our demands. Neither Persson nor Reinfeldt have any personal interest in keeping the absurdity that is current copyright legislation. The fact that things look like they do, is primarily due to lack of interest in the area, and that they have therefor allowed the 'experts' (i.e. the lobbyists of the entertainment industry) have their way.

In a situation where they can gain position of forming a government by striking a deal with us in an issue that they, themselves, believe to be less important, there is every reason to believe that they will be eager to find a solution.

But in either case, there are three possible scenarios:

1) One of the factions agree to our demands, and the other does not. Then we will choose the faction that agree with us. Wether this is the red faction of the blue faction is of no concern for us. As long as we see that they are doing their best to seriously run our issues, we will support the government in all other issues as well, without questioning.

2) Both the factions agree to our demands. If there are differences of nuances making one faction looking slightly better than the other, we will choose this faction. If both are exactly as good, we will support the faction with the more votes. This way we won't influence the balance between the factions in Swedish politics. As long as the government is running our issues, we will support them in all desicions, just as in the first scenario.

3) Both the factions refuse to meet our demands. This is the more complicated case, but we can handle this one too. Initially we will support one faction, and make a government possible. Most likely this will be the ones with the less votes, so that the others, the 'victors', will feel that they have lost power they were entitled to. They can, however, not do much about it, since we will suport the government without questioning in anything that does not involve our principles.

When the "victors" are safely placed in the penalty box of opposition, we start our businesslike, low-voiced conversations with them, untill they realize that our proposals are not, in fact, that dangerous, and that they can only win from working with us. When they have seen our arguments in the glow of the miraging governmental position for a while, there are good reasons to believe they will agree with us. This is when we will call for a vote of non-confidence and change the government. After that, the Pirate Party with support the new government without questioning, in all issues, as long as the government runs our issues forcefully, just as in scenario 1 and 2.

This is our entire strategy. This way we can guarantee that our policies will have a break-through.


Questions and answers about our scale-tipping strategy
- How do we handle parliamentary votes that does not include any issues that the Pirate Party runs?

We will support the government in office, no matter what our personal opinions might be.

- Will the party try to make deals with other parties ("if you vote for us on issue "X" and "Y" we will help you with "Z")?

No, we will talk to the party in office. As long as they do as we want in our issues, we will support them in all other matters. We do not wish to try shopping a la carte from different parties (if we do, we will only be shoved aside). If the goverment stops this manner of cooperation, we will change the government, but as long as we tolerate a government, we are completely loyal to them in all other issues, those not in our program.

- ...or not vote?

If the government needs our support in the parliament it can count on it. We will not cancel our votes if this would affect the turnout against the government.

- ...or let the individual MPs decide for themselves?

Under no circumstances. The day we start voting after personal preference, we have nothing more to offer the other parties in a negotiation. If this happens, we can no longer benifit from our position, and have no longer any means to influence the policies that is the closest to our hearts.

- But in the third scenario (that is if none of the factions wants to offer anything at all, even though we are tipping the scale), why would we want to support the government? We should obviously be able to offer them to vote, from their perspective, in an unseemly manner? It seems a bit awkward to give them what they want first (by support) and then trying to negotiate.

The idea in the third scenario is that we help a government form, that we ourselves aren't happy with, but who we choose to support indefinately anyway. Principally only to tease the opposition, in other words. When the opposition has spent a few months being grumpy because they can't form a government even though they think they won the election, they have two alternatives to choose from. They can either stay grumpy for the next four years, or they can start talking to us to find out if they can "talk sense in to us" and have our support.

The big prize is the government, both for the left and the right, and they have nothing to lose from having a dialogue with us. With that, we've managed to initialize a discussion with the opposition concerning these issues. Since our proposals does not, in any way, clash with the basic values of neither the left wing nor the right wing block, and since they are good proposals, objectively, for Sweden, there is no reason to believe that they would prefer to stay grumpy for the next four years instead of making a deal with us.

But until they have done so, we will consistently vote with their opponents (i.e. the government that we support even if we think they are no good). That way the opposition will have an even bigger reason to strike a deal with us, even moreso than if we voted without a clear direction. The more votes the opposition lose concerning health care / education / taxes / disbanding of military units, the more eager they will become to have a change of government.

The government that is in power even though we think they're no good will perhaps feel happy to be able to carry through whatever they want without giving us anything in return. But they will know that all it takes for them to lose office is one word from the opposition. So the joy they're feeling will hardly be very deep or long lasting.

Poängen med att släppa fram en regering även om ingendera sidan ger oss vad vi vill ha är att skapa stabilitet och låta eventuella heta känslor svalna en smula. Man kan inte dra ut på regeringsförhandlingar mer än ett par veckor efter det att valet är klart. Kan vi inte få en regering som vi vill ha (för att den lovar att göra rätt i våra frågor) är det ändå bättre att släppa fram en regeringsbildare som vi ogillar. Landet måste ha en regering.

The point of helping a government to form even if none of the players gives us what we want is that we want to add to a stablity and let things calm down a bit. One can't postpone negotiations about the government more than a couple of weeks after the election. If we can't have a government that we want because it promises to see our points and work for them, it's still better to help a government we don't like. The country needs a government.

Parliamentarism is such an ingenious system because the parliament can throw out the government in office whenever a majority of its members wish. The leader of the opposition will know this, no matter if his name is Persson or Reinfeldt. So why would he not talk to us to see if he can create a majority for a vote of no confidence? And why would he not meet our demands when he has had time to think about them, and realize that they do not oppose his own ideology or any core party issues in any way?


If we make it to the parliament, but can not tip the scale
Even if we would not reach a position where we can tip the scale, we can still do a lot of good in the standing committees. Much of the malfunctioning legislation that is voted through is often voted through because the established parties does not understand the Internet and all the new technology. They have not thought through the consequences of building a controlled society to conserve the old instead of embracing the possibilities we have in our time.

They often blindly trust what lobbyists and civil servants at the departments tell them to think. They do not see these issues as important enough to put down time getting an informed opinion.

We can hopefully change this, simply by being part of the commitees, pressing the fact that these are important issues. Neither social democrats nor moderates really want to make it illegal for small businesses to develop new software, after all, or put all Swedish youths in prison. The fact that they still make or argue for laws that has these consequences is mostly due to lack of knowledge. We can supply the standing committees with a well needed competence and a valuable perspective.

- If we can't tip the scale, will we try to negotiate about individual issues?

In this scenario, negotiations will hardly be our most important tool, simply because we wouldn't have much of a negotiation position. If they can create a majority without us, they won't need to negotiate with us at all.

But this does not mean that all would be lost. We could still add a lot, simply by being constructive in our committee work. Much of the worst legislation is due to the fact that the established parties lack knowledge and interest in our issues.


- ...or will we simply cancel our votes?

In a situation where there is a parliamentary majority without us, it wouldn't matter how we voted, and then it doesn't make a differece. The simplest thing would be to simply not vote.

- ...or do we present bills that are promptly turned down?

We might want to present bills as part of our work to clarify the choices our society has, but the purpose then would only be to raise these issues. We would probably have to spend more time discussing the pros and cons of the bills that are about to be clubbed.

- ...or should we simply stay home with our kids?

Participating in the committees in a constructive manner aside, there will be much work to be done on the european level. Some of the decisions we want carried through can only be made in Brussels. Therefor we have all reason to do what we can to support our sister parties in other countries, and help them get started. So there might not be much time for vacation, even if we don't get to support a government.

2006-08-23

High School talks

This is an excellent reflection from real life, given by Rasmus Fleischer of Copyriot:

Today I was invited to Fryshuset high school to talk about file sharing before 300 freshmen. Most of them were part of variour aesthetic educations, from soul and music production, to drama and computer games. I spoke in a personal manner, from the vast changes that has taken place since I started my aesthetic education in high school myself, thirteen years ago. Back then, the tape was the hot stuff, both if you wanted to get your demo out, and if you wanted to copy new, exciting music from friends. TOday these parts of music have changed in a way that makes a richer musical climate possible, where the moment has gotten its rightful place. That was about what I said, only a bit more personal.

The high school had asked IFPI (the Swedish equivalent of the RIAA, my note) if they wanted to represent 'the other side', presenting a contrary position. IFPI obviously declined the invitation, they did not wish to talk to the Bureau of Piracy, but instead preferred to let us have our say without an argument, before a group of people they should regard as the absolutely most important youths to reach out to with their message. What a fantastic PR strategy. Can anyone understand how the anti pirates think? Well, I'm happy I didn't have to argue with lawyers from a different planet. Instead there was another opponent present, one of the music production teachers. This gave significantly better grounds for a meaningful discussion. And in one way, perhaps, our views didn't differ that much: none of us were really interested in changing laws, and we both expect file sharing to be impossible to stop. My opponent slammed the Pirate Bay raid and the "blunt methods" of IFPI. On the other hand, he thought that file sharing networks were a bit unnecessary when there are such things as iTunes and MySpace, and claimed that there were a sort of right to stop others from copying one's works after all, since one's works is like one's children. The audience - hundereds of file sharing and culture producing teens - was concerned and alert. During the next to weeks they are now to work on file sharing themes, in all school subjects.

A small note to those IFPI representatives reading this: You are losing a generation, not only a generation of "consumers", but also those that you expect to sign contracts with in the future.

Bill Gates makes the distinction

Pirates often face arguments that are based on how sharing copyrighted material is comparable with theft. The usual answer is that theft is one thing, copyright infringment is another, and that's why they are placed in different sections of the body of law.

Some people continues to have trouble making the distinction.

Bill Gates is not one of them.

He recently told the Wall Streeet Journal that he watched physics lectures and the Harlem Globetrotters on YouTube. When WSJ says they are stolen he answered:

Stolen's a strong word. It's copyrighted content that the owner wasn't paid for.


More on TorrentFreak

2006-08-12

Special interest groups will be able to get IP addresses to conduct private investigations

Johan Linander, MP of the Center Party, has some mildly shocking news on his weblog.

I read DN (Swedish daily, translators note) today in the business section (I can't find it on dn.se so I can't link) that the department of justice is working on a legislation that are going to force ISP to provide IP addresses to copyright holders when they suspect infringement of their copyrights. The legislation is evidentally based on an EU directive called the Sanction Directive.

Today there has to be a police investigation of a suspected copyright crime, a crime that has to be serious enough to merit a prison sentence, if the police are to have IP addresses from ISPs. With the new law, a police investigation is not needed, a crime meriting prison is not needed, and the IP addresses are to be given out to the Bureau of Anti Piracy (the interest group of copyright holders in Sweden), since they are "working for" the copyright holders.

This sounds completely absurd. First of all to use integrity infringing methods against individuals no matter how small the crime, secondly that it's enough that an organisation is investigating, not the police, and, above all, because the ISPs can be forced by a court to provide IP addresses to an interest organisation instead of providing it to the police.

Marianne Levin, expert on copyright matters at the Stockholm university, says to DN that the law proposal signifies a new trend in Swedish law, since the Supreme Court traditionally has been restrictive when it comes to providing information from a third party.

I will of course work to stop this. An updated copyright legislation is needed, not more hunting of file sharers. If someone is going to be able to get personal information about me from my ISP, it should of course be the police, not the Bureau of Anti Piracy. We should not have a legislation giving interest groups rights to receive information from businesses at all. If a crime is committed the police should investigate it, and integrity infringment should only be allowed in the case of serious crimes.

What's the next step? Should an organisation hiding women under threat be able to demand call lists from phone companies if they suspect a man is making threatening calls to their ex girlfriends? No, even if this is a much more serious crime, it's the police that should investigate and use methods of privacy infringment, not an interest group.


The fact that more rights to use more and more repression and surveillance to hit against people for less and less crime is hardly news. The blogosphere has already pointed to the fact that the European Union is changing its' directions to make possible more and more serious repression against serious crime, while the Swedish department of justice is systematically changing Swedish legislation to fit more and more people within the span of "serious crime". Not long ago, Oscar Swartz of Texplorer repeased a report that showed this. He brought this up to public debate with the minister of justice, who's only response was that Swartz 'was not an independent scientist'.

But the fact that special interest groups are given the right to conduct crime investigations where they, themselves, have interests in the case is simply disturbing.

I can see a few other implementations of the same legislative culture. Why not let various white supremacy groups get addresses from the immigration authorities, for example?

Any society that makes claims of justice should be very clear - only the judicial body with police and prosecutors, IRS and similar conducts crime investigations. Private information is private for a reason. But this is something that the Swedish ministry of justice is trying to change.

2006-08-09

"Piracy is killing the PC game market"

Recently, Kevin Cloud, CEO of id Software, claimed that piracy is killing the PC game market. More and more game stores has begun selling more and more console games on the expense of PC games. This, says Cloud, is due to piracy.

One can't help to wonder - perhaps PC games are losing market shares to console games, simply because console games are winning market shares from PC games?

To me, it sounds like any other market - it changes. Some players win, and some players lose. Why should the game market be so much different? Do PC games have some form of natural right to maintain a certain part of the game market? Surely, this doesn't occur because PC games are possible to copy, but with console games it would be impossible. So, if piracy is killing the PC market, why isn't it also killing the console game market?

id is one of my absolute favourite game producers. Wolfenstein, Doom, Quake, say no more! Of all games I bought in my life, Quake3Arena was one I had waited for the longest. To win back market shares, the producing companies must release more price worthy products. Q3A didn't become much of a hit, mostly because of competition from Counter-Strike, a mod of Halflife, another PC game. Was this also because of piracy?

1up.com: Id's Kevin Cloud Says Piracy is Killing PC Gaming

2006-08-03

Good news, everyone.

I had an offer I can't refuse.

My good friend Ernesto at TorrentFreak, with who I've been working with for a while, offered me to write exclusively for TF. This is simply too good to refuse. First of all, TorrentFreak is a site I hold in much asteem, as Ernesto is running one of the top blogs on the topic, and in general. Secondly, it's a good chance to expand and make myself useful. Also, I must admit I'm both flattered by the offer and see it as a chance to reach new readers.

So, does this mean that Piracy Unlimited is obsolete? Not at all!

As I think of it, I will simply write exclusively for TF and for PUL. Both are great places, and both deserve the same attention, I don't intend to cross-post. I was thinking that my contributions to Piracy Unlimited will be of a more detailed kind. More translations. And also stuff that might not be hottest news anymore, stuff like the Asbo story, for example. The hot news items will end up on both places of course. ;)

I want to thank TorrentFreak for this opportunity.

2006-08-02

Time for the Pirate Party of the year!


  • Piratbyråns websie has, as reported, returned after a political repression.
  • Copy Me, an anthology of texts from said website, has been a huge success and quickly sold out but will now be released in a new edition.
  • It's time to kick-start a fall that will be at least as exciting as the summer has been.

Thus, Piratbyrån has rented Undebara Bar in Stockholm, Sweden, and will host the Pirate Party of the year!

On the 7 of August, between 8pm and 1am, the party will be held. The guests will be treated to a joint performance by artist Goto80 and video group Jossystem.

- It will be a great party, says Rasmus Fleischer from Piratbyrån. We have Jossystem, performing a version of poloview all night. And Goto80 is a great live performer.

Why go to Stockholm?

- You should go if you like a great party, says Rasmus, who is careful to point out, that this will be an event for everyone out there who likes a good party, pirate or not.

Underbara bar is located at Östgötagatan 33, subway station Medborgarplatsen. You have to be 18 to get in. There's no entrance fee, only warrobe. Underbara bar has a wide range of beverages and other things one want to consume at a party.

Be here early! Goto80 & Jossystem will begin their performance at 9pm, due to neighbourhood related regulations. But after that, the music doesn't stop. Our DJs (names will be presented shortly) will keep at it all night. On the menu is, for example, dancable mash up mixes - the music that no copyright legislation understand! See you on August 7!

More from Piratbyrån.

2006-07-31

Tribute post: to kdsde

If someone bothers reading the few comments I actually get, you noticed that a certain kdsde has had the courtesy to comment every now and then. Most often, these are passenger seat driving kinds of comments - the person comments on typos, factual errors, technical difficulties, non-truths, stuff like that.

Two things must be said about this:

  1. I do not feel bad about the comments. They don't make me feel bad in anyway. As a matter of fact I'm greatful that someone is reporting all the mistakes in inevitably due every now and then, every so often, every other post, or - heck, all the time. ;) kdsde is thus sort of my clean-up crew, that points out where the blood-stains are. This is great. And it also proves I have at least one regular reader who also comments, makes me feel like I'm not really the only person in the world who reads all the stuff I put on this blog (yes, I know there are more of you out there, but you get the point).
  2. It's not me who is doing this. I have no idea what so ever who this person is, to be honest (though I'm sure s/he has probably told me, but I'm too shattered-minded to remember. Let me in on a little secret: I once forgot the name of a girlfriend. During the relationship. I'm just terrible with names and stuff like that). This doesn't make me less greatful, however.
So. Whoever you are kdsde, who does all this for me, and whyever you do it: keep doing it. It's bliss for me and the poor sods that feels compelled to read my rantings.

2006-07-27

What happens to a newspaper when there are no news?

Evidentally, very little is happening in Sweden right now. This is indicated by an attack against the Bureau of Piracy that turned out to become quite a funny story - only the laugh is on the attacker.

Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet ran a story about Piratshoppen, the website that sells Piratbyrån and the Pirate Bay related material such as T-shirts, stickers and so on. The article claimed that Piratshoppen sold material of a lesser moral standard. They claimed that via the shop, one could purchase T-shirts with captions such as, 'All women desire anal sex', and 'Feminism - for those who are fet, ugly and jealous'. The material sold was labaled 'sexist', which I can agree is a rather accurate term for the captions in the example.

But Piratbyrån doesn't sell their T-shirts directly. They hire a company called Peer99 to provide this service. They also have other customers, and all customers, including Piratbyrån, have their own sections in the website. The reporter had find the offensive T-shirts under sections belonging to other customers.

To make matters worse, Piratbyråns web server had been in police custody for almost two months when the article was published about 22 hours ago. Instead it had been replaced by a temporary newssite in the form of a blog, which hadn't even linked to Piratshoppen. In the article, the reporter claims that Piratbyrån hasn't become rich by advertisements, 'as we last month uncovered that the Pirate Bay did', but from the Piratshoppen. But as a matter of fact The Pirate Bay linked to Piratshoppen, and Piratbyrån did, in fact not, untill very recently.

The situation is clear - the reporter had countered the lack of local happenings by fabricating a story based on in-correct claims, to point an accusating finger at a website that hardly even existed most of the time that the story covered - and the accusation, amounting to something like 'They get fat off of sexism' - is based completely on 'guilt by association', which is something that a respectable newspaper should be very careful to avoid.

It could end with this, the fact that a notable Swedish daily pointed a guild-by association accusation against Piratbyrån based on inaccurate claims, but it didn't.

Not long after the article was published, some industrious digger found out an interesting fact, taste this: Svenska Dagbladet also have a shopping system, by an external provider, linked to their website, as part of their advertising system. Just as they claim Piratbyrån have. And Svenska Dagbladets webshop sold hardcore porn movies, with titles such as Anal Cunts, The Wrong Hole, Italian Lolita 1-5 Limited Edition and Mattress III - hardly something that promotes a very positive view on women, in other words.

So, not only did this accusation take place, it took place in a newspaper that does the same thing - only they're selling movies picturing women as sexual organs and mattresses.

This resulted in a number of comments on the article, as well as blog postings (sorry, no English links as of yet, you just have to believe me on this one). Not long after this occured, the porn was suddenly removed from SvDs website. A few hours later, it seems that the article has been a bit edited and corrected. Perhaps some editor pulled the young reporter in the ear and told him something about how he wasn't working on a tabloid?

It would be nice, however, to see if Svenska Dagbladet or the reporter takes their responsibility and act upon this, maybe put on some kind of aknowledgement - because aside from the fact that the newspaper did the same thing as the article accused others of doing; to point an accusing finger at someone, based on 'guilt by association' and false facts is not a nice thing to do, and it should be followed by some form of official 'please excuse us, we were wrong'.

Links (all in Swedish, I'm afraid)
Copyriot
Frihet, fildelning och feminism
Sänd mina rötter regn

2006-07-21

Why is YouTube so bad? :O

There seem to be a big fuzz right now about the terms and conditions that YouTube is changing to. Through these, YouTube is claiming rights to do what they want with what people upload to them.

I am claiming, however, that YouTube is on the right track, that there is nothing I can see that is very worrying, and in fact, that YouTubes terms and conditions isn't that far off from how many, but not all, pirates want copyright legislation to look.

The allegedly controversial and fought over passus looks like this:

…by submitting the User Submissions to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the User Submissions in connection with the YouTube Website and YouTube's (and its successor's) business ... in any media formats and through any media channels.

Now, what is the active, the most important word of this passus? The answer is: non-exclusive. YouTube claims a non-exclusive right to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivate works of, display and perform what you download to them. This means that they want to use the materials they host - but it says outright that this right does not exclude anyone from using it.

All text on Piracy Unlimited is under a creative commons license, that says that what you find on this site, when it comes to the texts, you can use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivate works of, display and perform, whoever you are - under the condition that whatever result produced from this, will also be under this same license.

In other words, to be perfectly clear, I put more regulations on my rights to my texts on Piracy Unlimited than YouTube does in their terms and services. They say they want the right to use the stuff, but doesn't exclude anyone from doing the same. I say everyone can do this, but only if the end result is treated the same way. Granted, my regulations might make information more free in the long run - or maybe I just flatter myself by saying so - but the truth is that I put some manner of protective exclusiveness on my work, while YouTube, in their terms and conditions, simply do what pirates do when they say they want to make downloading legal:

"We want the rights to download, use, exchange and redo this material - but we don't say that others can't do the same thing." That's non-exclusive, and it's very important to remember this, before making something a hot potatoe just because it contains the word "copyright" or is related to it. :)

Now, if anyone can explain what is so bad about this deal, please do this to me. Send mails, write comments, cause I want to know what the fuzz about. To me, this simply looks like a company that comes way closer to what copyright legislation should look like, than the legislation we currently have, at least here in Sweden.

2006-07-19

Piratbyrån back online

After one and a half month of absence, Piratbyråns website is now back online with full functionality.

Following is the official press release:

On Wednesday, Piratbyrån (The Bureau of Piracy) went live with their old/new website. After one and a half month of absence from the internet, we can once again present a complete solution for anyone who is interested in piracy, file sharing and copyright criticism.

The central parts of the website is the ongoing news reporting and the forum, which has 60 000 members.

- We can now retake our place as the foremost copycritical news source on the net, says Tobias Andersson from Piratbyrån. Together with other news sites and blogs we make sure it will be impossible to miss all the exciting stuff that is happening on the area.

Piratbyrån's server and orginal data is still in police custody. Prosecutor Håkan Roswall refuses to end this custody. Data, however, is not dependent on being at a specific physical spot, and after a bit of juggeling, the website is back.

- Even though we have hardly been inactive, we are very happy to have regained our place on the Internet, Tobias Andersson says. It's from here our activity is coordinated.

During the time that the website has been offline, Piratbyrån has, among other things, organized a large demonstration concering the Pirate Bay raid, written debate articles, held conversations with politicians from practically every party, negotiated in the city court, held speeches in Almedalen, initiated a large international lobby organisation and bought a lock of hair from Thomas Bodström.

We wish all our new and old readers welcome to our website. Have fun on the Internet!


When the Swedish police got the order from prosecutor Roswall, he himself haven gotten subtle hints from the government working under MPAA pressure, to raid the Pirate Bay, Swedish tax payers were blessed with the chance to finance an operation concerning tens of officers on a number of places all over Sweden. Despite this, it took the Pirate Bay no more than three days to get back online.

Piratbyrån is a bit more dependent on user content and large chunks of bigger data as well as a smooth system for the ongoing news coverage and handling of the forum for large numbers of users - users that was left stranded along with everyone else in this ongoing farse.

Nor does Piratbyrån get any help with funding by advertising companies, and rely completely on other means, particularily the hard work of its users and crew, to get it going. Given these facts and the astonishing attention Piratbyrån has gotten since the raid and the following demonstration, many to-do lists have been filled for most hours of the day. This has made it more difficult for Piratbyrån to regain their full functionlity.

But Piratbyrån has done what pirates have always done - instead of simply trusting others to solve problems for them, they have acted to solve the problems themselves. The website is currently independent on the servers some authority representatives with half an idea of what they are doing is digging through at the moment - in an investigation where Piratbyrån isn't even involved.

Now, this functionality is back, even though all backed up data from the forums and the news archives made before the raid still remain in the loving care of various Swedish authorities. It's about time. As soon as the prosecutor gets his act together and allows the police force to return Piratbyråns property to Piratbyrån, old data will be made available again.

And while on the subject - the world online community still demand of the authorities mentioned above: Release the data you have abducted and now hold in captivity for political reasons.

2006-07-18

Asbo - a threat against british democracy

Ryan Wilkinson, age 10, has gotten a court-order that bans him from, among other things, meeting 17 named individuals, using public transport, and being in a public place in West Yorkshire between 1900 GMT and 0730 GMT, unless accompanied by named family members. That is, he can't use public transport at all, and he is submitted to house arrest during off hours. He's ten years old.

Paul Daniels, age 14, can't be in a public place between 10pm and 7am unless accompanied by his mother, father or a grandparent, untill September 14 2007. On wednesdays, the curfew takes place on midnight. He is not allowed to meet with three or more people in public, if said people are aged 11 to 18 or family members, and except on lessons, he can't be on school grounds. That is, house arrest during off hours, and overruled freedom of association for a 14 year old.

A 16-year old with ADHD has been banned from entering parts of Sheffield. If he does enter these areas, he can be sentenced to 12 months in prison.

Luke Davis has been ordered to not go through the front door of his own house. He had been "attacking homes and cars" and "shouting obscenities".

15-year old Dean played football in the street. Dangerous yes. He received a court order with a map showing where he can't play football. He's also banned from going within 100 meters from the local Roseberry Sports and Community College and other things, including inciting others to commit these acts. "Let's go to school." would be an offense if the school in question would be the one mentioned above.

An 11-year old illeterate boy in a dysfunctional family were kicked out of school, and ended up on the wrong side of society - an outcast. After a number of juvenice offenses. When Times visited his family, the police came over at 10 in the morning and told his mother they would come back to arrest him later. He has now been issued an order that confines him to his home for the next five years. If he wants to leave his home, he can only use a specified route, marked in yellow on a map, leading to the outskirts of town - but only if he was accompanied by a "responsible adult".

Two brothers, 10 and 11 years old, in Nottinghamshire has been banned from participating in large groups, or going out night-time.

13-year old Michael had never been accused of anything before. But a while ago there were complaints - some anonymously - of, for example, vandalizing or shouting abuse. Based on these complaints, a court issued an order where Michael can't set his foot on several streets in his neighbourhood, or face the risk of being sentenced to five years.

These are just a short list of some of the most absurd and frightening examples I have found when researching about the ASBO, the Anti-social behaviour order. It was issued in Britain in 1998 under the Crime and Disorder Act.

What happens is that a person is complained about for disoderly conduct or anti-social behaviour, and a court state an order, naming a number of conditions that the person, the child, has to reach. If it is not reached, the child can instead be put in front of a criminal court.

There are two things that are quite astonishing when it comes to Asbo, aside from it being effectively making sentences made on a whim from a court against children:

* There is an old tradition in Britain, that when a child is convicted of a criminal offense, the anonymity to which young offenders are ordinarily entitled prevents anyone from discovering his name, what he looks like, or where he lives. This is not the case when it comes to the Asbo. Anyone can find these things out.

* Asbo cases are heard in civil courts, so the complaints against the defendant does not have to be proven beyond reasonable doubt, but merely judged on the balance of probability.

Since its implementation, thousands of Asbos have been issued in England and Wales, banning various children from everything from playing football to going through their own front door, as noted above. In Scotland, however, the Asbos are inherently and profoundly adverse to the judicial system that Scotland has (Scotland has a separate judicial system from that of the UK) Asbos are simply not compatible with scottish law implementation. Thus, only 4 Asbos has been issued there.

So as it seems, Britain has implemented a system where children can be, in effect, convicted to sentences depending on the will of a civil court, where their names are been made public and they do not have to be convicted by evidence, but by probability, and that's often for things that are not concidered crimes otherwise - it's well enough that someone can complain, even anonymously, that the child's behaviour is anti-social.

It does not bode well for Britain that they have effectively killed - ended, not put in jeopardy - all judicial security for children. Concidering how Britain also is the most monitored country in the Western World, and where effectively only two parties have the possibility to form a government, there is grounds for me to question the claim that the United Kingdom is actually a democracy.

Check out ASBOWatch list of child abuse.

Pirate Party International seems on the way

As you might have seen on Piracy Unlimited, I have argued that since various pro-piracy groups have recently started to go international, it's time for the pirate parties in various countries to do the same. Discussions have been under way lately in the Swedish Pirate Party, and it has resulted in their international liaison to start up PP International Net.

From the website:


Welcome!

This place is meant to be a meeting point for all the Pirate Parties that have started up around the world - just as much as a point to meet up and start something up in countries that have yet to see a Pirate Party to be formed.

Across the world we may have loads of various experiences and ideas, resources that are untapped. This place will hopefully make for a great place to pick up new things, as well as sharing your own tidbits with the rest of us!

You want to start a party, but have no place to recide, to discuss and plan? We'll provide a section for you under Temporary Country Sections, where you can talk to eachother in your own language until you have everything you need to set something up for yourselves.

If you have ideas of what this place should be like, put them up in the PPI forum!

This will be a work in progress, no doubt, so be patient to start with!

This is a simple placement page for PP International Net, btw. New front will be coming soon!

Please enjoy!

//infinite_emma


Despite the fact that this is quite new - I haven't seen any other blog cover it yet, there has already been queries to start things up on the site, even before they put up a real frontpage. My thought is that as soon as this spreads, there will be further requests from other places, and this international project has left shore for the waters of the future. Good work, let's get this ship moving!

2006-07-14

Informer - Don't Do It!

Swedish daily Expressen had a very interesting editorial today, written by an Isobel Hadley-Kamptz: "Refuse to give away your neighbour." It contains truths that are viable in any country.

Soon our goldie-lock justice minister has information about all our petty crimes. Because most of us has some dirt in some parts of our concience. Money under the table, fixing benifits, some pooching, some undeclared liqour from abroad, some trading belong in a grey zone. An entire generation of youths file sharing and rather have a joint than drink alcohol on friday evening. [...] A general suspicious outlook is tearing on society more than petty crimes. But we don't need to accept this. Everyone has a chance to resist. Refuse to inform about your neighbour.


She also staples a number of examples on how the Swedish society is not only marching towards a society of monitoring but also of informing. She tells about Lerum, a quaint little town of 15 000 or so inhabitants in western Sweden, where the municipality encourages it's inhabitants to inform on each other anonymously using the internet.

If the neighbour is getting his wage under the table, if the neighbour's kids are drinking beer, if someone tags the neighbour's wall. Sure it can seem reasonable to step in if you see ghastly things happen. Solidarity is about caring. But tipping off the local authorities anonymously? A municipality that actively encourages us to spy on our neighbours?


She also reminds us that the People's Party (that are actually allegedly liberals, even if most Swedes probably thinks about China when they hear the name), in their flirt with voters that call for tougher policies have suggested that the security police use informers on schools that can inform them of pupils with subversive opinions or behaviours. According to Isobel, the security police "just shrugged and implied that was already being done."

This editorial reminds us of another dimension on the questions of monitoring, that are sometimes forgotten in an often technical debate about camrea spreads, DNA databases, phone logs or the validity of a screenshot as proof in a court of law: that this kind of monitoring society also influence the way we humans look at each other - if the former is the hard side of repression, the latter is the softer, subtle and more long term devastating side of the Orwellian/Bodströmian society.

I for one have said before that in a generation or two, the new ideas about information as the basis for society and the conclusions deriving from these ideas, will eventually more and more replace our current old-school, 18th century right-left block parliamentary horse trading politics untill we actually live in the information age. But attempts to stop this is being made, just as attempts were made to stop every other major paradigm shift and revolution throughout human history - a history that seems bent on waging wars over ideas as much as about resources.

And right now, we need to organise our defensive and offensive strategies, so the other side of the force doesn't get the upper hand. If it gets too predominant, it's not impossible that it's the Bodströmian ideal that replaces our current old-school democracy all together. The old time is changing, wether we want it or not. The question now is what will fill the void - progression or repression.

Expressen: Vägra ange din granne (Swedish)

2006-07-12

News alert: International pirate lobby organisation goes live!

A few minutes ago, a press release was made available from The Pro Piracy Lobby.

PPL is a cooperative group between pirate organisations, devoted to free culture, in several countries.

So far, this international cooperation consist of the following members, according to the PPL website:


Rumour has it that several other groups are interested in joining the cooperation.

The Pro Piracy Lobby is what the name implies - an organisation aimed at coordinating the pirate movement's lobby efforts internationally in a more effective manner, a way to make these ideas available to people throughout the world. According to the website, the platform looks like this:

Kopimi - We will copy whatever we want. Make p2p legal or just accept it!

We are the Internet. We know it, we feel it, we live it and we are here to tell the world that p2p will never be stopped, can't be stopped and shouldn't be stopped. The Internet is a vast global network, screaming with life and the creativity of millions of minds. We will choose to explore it in any way we please and we don't need guidance.

Free networking, everywhere by anyone!!

We live in a time defined by the Internet. It preceeds everything else. Everything new and intresting begins there. Every important event and all the fun in the world too. The freedom of developing and offering networking services of any kind, even anonymously and free of charge, should be considered a self-evident right.

Don't touch our Internets! No more efforts to limit, monitor or sabotage use of the net!

When we talk about price, we don't mean what the price for copy-protected music should be or how much artists are supposed to be compensated for supposed loss due to file sharing. We mean what price the anti piracy lobby organisations and governments are willing to pay to get rid of file sharing? The only way is to shut down the entire Internet and even then we will soon rebuild our own. Anti pirates of Hollywood and the world, don't touch our Internet!

The Pro Piracy Lobby will continue to grow along with the expansion of a positive understanding of piracy and filesharing. Our mission is to bring forth a progressive Internet development, our goal being no less than the ruling of the the seven seas!


- Behind the Pro Piracy Lobby there is a strife to expand the arena for copyright criticism. As copypirates we have to be able to meet wherever we are - and we are everywhere, says Marcin de Kaminski from Piratbyrån Sweden.

But the listed member groups have cooperated for awhile. In what way does the Pro Piracy Lobby help expanding the international cooperation? And can you reveal any further international partners?

- Even though we have already cooperated for a long while, PPL makes a more formal cooperation visible. Together we can present a clear, common front, that can continue to present our present and future ideas on an international stage, says de Kaminski. It would not be fair to present future partners before the deals are final, but I can tell you that presently we have good relations with similar groups in a dozen other countries, mainly in Europe, but also on other continents.

I have promoted international organisation of the pirate movement a few times here on Piracy Unlimited. It seems that at least the non-party organisations of the pirate movement has now come to the same conclusion and are working towards these goals - still remain only to see how the various pirate parties of the world responds to this.

The pirate movement is global and getting organised. Will the pirate parties go the same way, or will they remain only regional curiosities? What does the Pro Piracy Lobby think about this? Will the pirate parties go the same way as they have done, towards international cooperation?

- That is up to them, of course, says de Kaminski, but my opinion is that international issues should be addressed at an international level.

Is there currently any cooperation or contacts between said parties and the Pro Piracy Lobby?

- Regarding pirate parties, I don't have much to say. Piratbyrån and PPL works with lobbying and spreading information, not with party politics. We have made an active desicion on this matter. That's the only comment you will get from me on that topic.

It seems I will have to go to the parties themselves to learn about this. Which means I have to stick a "to be continued" here... ;)

Pirates unite!

I recently wrote an article on why it is important for the pirate movement to organise. Obviously I am not the only one to make such an observation.

It is well established that anti-copyright groups in Sweden, Denmark and Norway are cooperating, that is Piratbyrån, Piratgruppen in Denmark and Piratgruppen in Norway.

There are now also pirate parties in:
The question is, how do these cooperate, if at all? There are several pirate movements - is there an international pirate movement? I intend to find out, it's about time!

Pirates in all countries - unite!

2006-07-07

A generic chat session is not official policy

Concider a group of people at a table, discussing something they all feel strongly about. These kinds of situations and talks tend to be quite informal, and thus sometimes, the discussion can become quite harsh. People will say things that the others, knowing this person, never would expect him to mean seriously - strictly speaking, there's alot of jokes.

This discussion is strictly personal, it is informal, and more than anything, it is non-official. It doesn't matter who is involved in this discussion. If it's the prime minister, if it's the CEO of a large corporation or if it's just two colleagues from the local factory. A chat between these people doesn't in any way determine the official position of the government, the business plan for the corporation or the plans for the factory union club, no matter what the discussion contains. If the prime minister says to his buddy in a private conversation that he thinks the head of the opposition is an SOB, that doesn't mean that the official position of the government is that the head of the opposition is an SOB.

It can also, under some circumstances, be a more formal or offical chat. Perhaps the prime minister invited one of his colleagues from the government to a job-related dinner. Perhaps it's a conversation which is about a political party's ideas or plans. Perhaps it's a public debate on the local library or an official meeting of the local union club. In this case, what is said there has more impact, and often one can assume that what is said there has officiality. What is said can have more repercussions.

This is how the IRC eseentially work. It is a discussion. People group together and talk. On this network of chatservers, a number of individuals have started a channel that they choose to name #piratpartiet. Members of the pirate party actually talk there. Even people that has had official positions in the party has chatted there. This doesn't mean that this channel is official in any way. If so, anyone could start a channel called #republicans and claim it to be the official chatsite of the american Republican Party. It's bullshit and has nothing to do with reality - even if the president himself visited the channel.

IRC channels have topics, that's supposedly an official statement of the channel itself - it's made so that visitors will know if they've come to the right place or not. The topic of the channel #piratpartiet includes the words: "Detta är INTE Piratpartiets officiella kanal!" - This is NOT the official channel of the Pirate Party. When you enter, you immediately get an official message from the channel that tells you that it has no formal bonds to the Pirate Party. Furthermore, Piratpartiet itself makes no claims at all to have an offical IRC channel and does not claim this channel as it's own, official channel in any way.

This should make it abundantly clear that this IRC channel is not official to the Pirate Party in any way - and consequently, that what is said on it, is not offical to the Pirate Party either.

But still, Expressen claims in an article that a discussion on this channel occured on "the pirate party's internal chat site".

It's time this Expressen reporter realized this: It's not a site - it's a chat. It's very internal - for the individuals that are involved, not the party it has taken it's name from. It does not belong to the Pirate Party. And it's not anything official from the Pirate Party, anymore than a statement from an average nobody is an official government statement because he begins with the words, "I am social democrat".

It's the same thing as when another Swedish tabloid, Aftonbladet, a few weeks back claimed that a lawyer had been threatened by Pirate Bay, because an anonymous user had written something that could be concidered a threat on an open forum - a message that was even deleted since it was concidered inappropriate.

One is wondering - is this a way for newspapers to join the judicial system to harass those that critizes the judicial system and the newspapers? Or do they feel threatened by the new technology making news, ideas and information available that the newspapers didn't come up with and control themselves? Or do they simply not understand that a chat is not the same thing as a press release?

Wikipedia: Internet Relay Chat

Head prosecutor calls file sharers criminals and compare them to criminal MC gangs

It seems it has become a standard for various representatives of the judicial system to use large words and far-reaching comparisons to attemp to demonize file-sharers and pirates. Not long ago, prosecutor Håkan Roswall insultingly compared the thinktank Piratbyrån to terrorists, by pulling parallells between them and the IRA.

Today, Expressen has a piece on how some people has made some controversial remarks on the IRC regarding said prosecutor - I will come back to that topic later - and now it is head prosecutor Sven-Erik Alhem's turn to make the insulting comparisons. He tells Expressen that file sharing criminals (taste that expression for a moment, that's over a million people in Sweden and quite a few more million other people around the world he is referring to) are comparable to animal rights activists and criminal motorcycle gangs.

They have their own ethical system. Because of this they concider themselves in the moral right to attack anyone they concider opponents. It can be anything from an unfriendly tone to punishable threats.


There's a world of things to say about this. We have two leading prosecutors who have compared file sharers to terrorists and Hells Angels within the last few days - and now they claim the file sharers make unfriendly remarks? And based on unmoderated commnts on an open internet forum and pieces of a log of an open-for-all channel on the IRC, Alhem claim to have the right to make a general observation about file sharers, who are now called "criminals"? Pray, tell me - who has his own ethical system now?

Expressen: Åklagare smutskastas på Piratpartiets chatt (Swedish)

2006-07-04

Anti monopoly ruling can make way to cheaper broadband in Sweden

The Swedish company Telia Sonera, that under the name of "Televerket" was the government agency for the upholding of the telecommuncations monopoly. On July 1, 1993, the Swedish Parliament transformed it into a company under the name of Telia, and thus Sweden became the first European country to deregulate the telecom market, although Telia maintained in their monopoly position for a few years.

Nowadays we have several players on this market. But Telia Sonera, as it is now called, has had a very strong position, owning alot of the infrastructure, the cables and so on, that competitors had to rent themselves in to.

However, this might change now, as the administrative court of appeals (Kammarrätten) ruled that Telia Sonera has to give their competitors the same possibilities as themselves to use their infrastructure, in other words, to let them in without any terms that lowers their access or competitive possibilities. This is reported by Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter.

According to one of these competitors, Glocalnet's CEO Martin Tivéus, this might mean price reductions on broadband connections with up to 1,000 SEK a year.

Today there is a large difference in prices for broadband. In areas where we use the Telia net we have to, for example, charge a 100 SEK more for our 8 mbit service than in other areas. The decision means that we can lower the prices for a little more than half of the broadband customers in Sweden, says Martin Tivéus.


Finally there is some positive decisions made from the judicial system regarding the tech area, after so many setbacks and harassment from our legal system, it feels good to have some good news as well. It can't be said strongly enough what it means for development that society steps in and tries to stop private monopolies on tech development and the fact that a large segment of the population will have access to cheaper internet access.

We'll see what happens if and when Telia Sonera appeals to this decision.

2006-07-03

Håkan Roswall shutting down freedom of press as well

To many pirates and many of those visiting this blog, it is abundantly clear that the Swedish government shut down the Pirate Bay to satisfy the demands of the american film industry lobby. It is also been stated clearly that the prosecutor they use conciders pro-piracy thinktanks that hasn't broken any law to be terrorists, and is keeping their servers locked in simply because of this, without legal support, and without even attempting to explain why.

What many people doesn't know is that the government is also harassing a Chechen news agency.

In May, the news agency Kavkaz Center, that had their servers at PRQ, the same place as the Pirate Bay and the Piratbyrån, had their server confiscated because the Russian embassy had accused it of agitation against Russia. The person who gave the order to confiscate their server was the highly familiar prosecutor Roswall. But after agreeing to delete the texts accused of the agitation and solving some other formal problems, Kavkaz Center had their computers return, and one of the few existing news sources on the situation in Chechnya that are not Russian could continue their work.

Then came raid on the Pirate Bay. As we know, 60-ish police officers confiscated everything they could see, completely regardless of what they were, stranding over 200 companies, making them unable to conduct their business. When the raid progressed, the legal representative of PRQ, Mikael Viborg, pointed out about Kakvaz Center had their computers returned to them recently, and that there had been stated clearly that there was nothing illegal about the server, and that it was a news agency server and should be secured by the Swedish constitutional press protection.

The police in charge of the raid then called prosecutor Roswall for instructions regarding this case, and the prosecutors told him to "bring those servers anyway".

Just as one thought this affair couldn't get more dirty - the state shuts down 200 businesses to get to one activity that had already been decided to be legal, on behalf of a foreign power, and shutting down opposing political expressions for their own gain, the same prosecutor now also fights freedom of press in Russia on behalf of the russians.

The Swedish union of journalists now plan to take this situation up with justice minister Bodström in a planned meeting, seeing as how the unions in Sweden have close ties to the governing Social Democratic party.

2006-07-02

Why the pirate movement needs to organize

On May 1, 2004, the Swedish Justice Department released a report by the name of Digitala klyftor – förr, nu och i framtiden (Digital rifts - past, present and future). It investigated the rifts in society between those that are attuned to and able to benifit from the new technology and those that can not, made from a perspective of age groups, gender and social classes. It concluded a very interesting thing:

Age can, at a superficial concideration, look like an important factor. The reason, however, that people over the age of 65 are using the Internet less than those that are younger, is mainly because they were not introduced to the use of Internet during their professional lives. They were already retired when the Internet came. The age cleft will thus shrink as the new senior citizens will have a habit of using the Internet in their professions. People doesn't stop using the Internet because they retire.

[...]

Thus we see that the age cleft is significant in a short-term perspective, but it will diminish. It can only be diminished by a lesser extent from economical measures, however social networks can have a positive effect for those that already lacks these from the time prior to retirement.


This is an important conclusion, and one that works on several levels, the political level nontheless.

In the 19th century, freedom and equality for all was something that was seen as radical and was continued to be radical untill well into the last century. Although the struggle of popular movements and democracy projects have been vital for the breakthrough of democracy and its values in the western world, it would have been virtually impossible to make much progress in, say, the early 1800's, no matter how organized the democracy movement would have been.

The younger generations in any given time has always been very well attuned to new ideas and the flows of change, and the general regards for political ideas is something youths have brought with them into adulthood. Although the ideas might change in practice during the process of maturing and over time, this has almost without exception had the effect that the next generation "in power" has always had a slightly different onlook than the preceding one. This is simply how the political evolution has worked throughout western history - a youthfull radicalism has merged with maturity to a blend that the people have taken with them and worked to accomplish when it has been their turn to dominate their society.

Thus, for example, the democratisation of the western world, the civil rights movement and other important developments, have happened, simply because it has been a natural step for the generations that live during those eras have worked to carry them through.

So, it will be with us as well.

Right now, the things that the pirate movement is working for, from a long-term perspective the polical adaption of the world in which we live, based on our level of technology and conditions of life, seems quite radical. It is also often expressed by radical means.

With time, however, the generation that has seen the maturing of the internet, the pioneering, the rapid technological development, and all that it implies and means and holds for the future, will be the ones that dominate society. There is no reason to assume that we will not follow the same patterns as our ancestors.

Our radicalism will meet with our maturity, and the ideas that we hold will be the ideas that we carry through to influence the society that we are to give to our heirs.

Thus, time is on our side - eventually we WILL win the war against those that try to limit information exchange and personal integrity and our rights to freedom, simply because that is something that concerns this generation much more than traditional western parliamentary politics. The trends of waning voting percentages and decreasing party memberships shows this very clearly.

The problem, however, is the amount of ferocity that the now established part of society tries to fight this new development, simply because these ideas are not in tune with ours. This is leading, in our case, to a very strong movement against us from established society, a development takes place towards more control, and more limitations.

One of our most important jobs is to stop these limitations untill we are taking over, making sure that our ideas are not being made formally impossible within the current system (something that we risk to see happening, at the rate things are going). And our other, equally important job, is to bring our ideals up on the daily agenda, and preparing the kind of future that we want to see.

We're not the only ones with ideas and dreams of the future, and in a society that still has democracy, all groups with ideas will pull every string to realize their aims, and we must do this as well. This is why there is a need for pirates to organise. Not because we necessarily want to wipe the floor with those that does not share our ideals and values, but to make our voices heard along with the rest.

2006-06-30

Håkan Roswall compares Piratbyrån with terrorists, and the Pirate Bay with... something even worse

This is translated from Rasmus Fleischer of Copyriot, regarding the juridical aftermaths concerning the raid on the company PRQ, who had all their customers raided about a month ago. Some of their customers have had their equipment returned, some have not, and their own equipment, the equipment used for company administration, is still being held by order of prosecutor Håkan Roswall, without any given reason.

Now I've heard, by word of mouth from a person that was present in court in Stockholm on the Wednesday, what prosecutor Håkan Roswall said at the first negotiations that will be held regarding the seizure of various servers in relation with the Pirate Bay raid.

The company PRQ wanted their four computers back, computers used for book keeping and keeping tabs of customers (also necessary for PRQ to be able to pay their taxes). Håkan Roswall refuses and insists that the computers are to remain locked away for at least another year. He claims that this is important for the investigation.

When the court heard this case, it was thus time for Håkan Roswall to motivate his decisions. How did he do it? Well, first he allegedly talked about what bittorrent is in general for up about half an hour, and (nobody understands why) how virtual networking works. A guess is that the jurors were completely confused. Then Håkan Roswall said, according to what I have had told to me, literarily this:

I don't know how to say this, but one could say that Piratbyrån is like the IRA and the Pirate Bay is like IRAs armed forces.


It's stunning.

The ignorance of the prosecutor is one thing: the IRA is the "armed forces" of the Sinn Féin party, which should be part of anyone's general knowledge. What is more stunning is why he involved Piratbyrån in this at all. The negotiations was about the company PRQ, and the alledged necessity for the investigation to not return their accounts (not even a copy).

The worst thing, however, is what Håkan Roswall obviously is trying to say: the work to influence the public opinion that Piratbyrån is doing is to be compared to terrorism (and the Pirate Bay is terrorism squared). The fact that Piratbyrån is arguing that indexing services such as the Pirate Bay has an obvious right to exist, means that freedon of expression can be sorted away.

PRQ have appealed to a higher instance, but before that, the demands from more people and companies to get their computer equipment returned will be tried in the district court. Also the seizure of Piratbyrån's server will be brought up to trial, hopefully as soon as next week. But expect that Håkan Roswall will refuse to give an inch. This is of course a political question, where pressure has to be applied from as many directions as possible, if we are not to accept that prosecutors are going to be able to arbitrarily decide that one online voice or another are to be silenced for an unspecified timespan and without any suspicion of crime.

2006-06-29

Report: File sharing does not influence movie theater ticket or DVD sales

The Swedish daily GP (Gothenburg Post) had an interesting piece the other day. It claims that downloading of copyrighted materials does not cause much losses for the copyright holders.

Those that download movies from the internet does not shun the theaters and doesn't skip renting a movie. On the contrary, they are keen consumers of both movie theater visits and DVDs. This is revealed in a new report.

The movie theater visits in Sweden has steadily decreased. Last year there was 14.6 million visits to the theaters thoughout the country. Thirty years ago, that figure was almost three times as high and in the last two years alone the visits have decreased with four million. On the DVD market, the number of movies sold has increased, but the value of the total market has still been unchanged.

The movie industry has seen the illegal downloading of movies from the internet as one of the reasons that less people buy their products. But according to a new study from the SOM institute that is not the case.

- If you look at the population in general it is those who download movies who also visits the movie theaters most often and rents the most dvd movies, says Rudolf Antoni, candidate for the doctoral program in journalism and mass communication and the one responsible for the study where 1800 people has been interviewed on various topics, including movie theater habits.

Youmg men with home access to alot of technology is the group that downloads the most movies. The fact that they are also the most frequent movie theater visitors has been partially explained with notions that they belong to an age group that visits the theaters more often.

- But the downloading has no negative effect even if you only compare the age group up to 30 years old. There, everyone goes to the theaters equally much, if they download movies or not, says Rudolf Antoni.


This is a fascinating report with important results.

It shows that the panic over the waning sales of the movie industry can no longer be blamed on file sharing. File sharing is now documented not to influence the sale figures.

One might be urged to say that this report claims that file sharing is good for the sale figures. That may be so, but I'm quite sceptical about that - if an even larger segment of the population was downloading movies in the manner that the group "young men with home access to alot of technology" perhaps the general picture would be different, and it would lead to a slight decrease, albeit not a significant one.

However, it shows what file sharing advocates have claimed for quite a while by now - that the reason that people share movies with each other is that they simply like movies. In itself, that is a fact that should be received with big smiles from the movie producers, especially now, when it seems that the file sharers are not only the most eager consumers, but also the best customers as well.

In any account, the movie industry needs to find other reasons why their sales are decreasing. Perhaps they make inferior products. Perhaps they are marketing their products in a flawed way. Perhaps their distribution methods are outdated? Such things have been claimed by various file sharing advocates through-out the debate. If the movie industry is going to claim that their sales are decreasing in such a level that the very existance of their industry is at jeopardy, it would definately be in their interest to do an honest investigation of the real reasons.

But somehow I doubt that this will happen, something tells me that the movie industry will instead continue to blame their best customers instead of evaluating their own flaws. This is confirmed in the same GP article.

Jan Bernhardsson is CEO at SF Cinemas. Even if the new studies shows that file sharing on the internet might not be the explanation for the decrease of ticket sales, he doesn't feel calm at all.

- Absolutely not. Downloading is a real threat. Indirectly it provides a serious threat against the entire movie industry. If those producing the movies doesn't get paid there is no basis for investment. Then they can't produce any new movies, which also influence us negatively, he says.


This is a shame, since what they are doing is lobbying for a further criminalization of file sharers, and trying to push on us a concensus that file sharers are immoral and a threat. And now it seems that that those they want to outlaw and outcast are in fact their best customers.

Perhaps it is this arrogant attitude that is actually the bulk of the problem?