2006-06-19

Washington Post confirms US meddling and Swedish compliance

On June 15, the Washington Post staff writer Frank Ahrens wrote a piece on the ongoing attempts by the US government to make an effort in the international piracy war. While making a few points that would point in the direction that the US is in fact meddling in internal Swedish affairs, the article shows some incredible gaps in its insights.

It is some interesting reading about examples on how the US government threatens other countries with various sanctions if they don't comply with the White House view on piracy, a view that just so happens to coincide very closely with that of anti-pirates, indicating that the US government has taken the same losing side in the war as has the greater part of the Swedish ruling party.

The U.S. government has joined forces with the entertainment industry to stop the freewheeling global bazaar in pirated movies and music, pressuring foreign governments to crack down or risk incurring trade barriers.


In Sweden, it might be rough to accuse the US of being able to meddle successfully in Swedish affairs, and the Social Democratic party, with a long standing tradition of claimed neutrality, has a leadership that seem to think this is a touchy subject. But in fact, Sweden has several times complied with US demands, both by harassing people suspected by the US for terrorism, and by aiding in the shut down of the Pirate Bay.

When Swedish national television news program Rapport claimed that the shut down on the Pirate Bay was a job order from high levels of the US administration, this was regarded as an insult for the person that would be best targeted for these accusations, justice minister Thomas Bodström. But not only Rapport claims this - the Washington Post seem to agree whole-heartedly. But the Post seems a bit more positive to this than the very critical Rapport.

Last year, for instance, the movie industry lobby suggested that Sweden change its laws to make it a crime to swap copyrighted movies and music for free over the Internet. Shortly after, the Swedish government complied. Last month, Swedish authorities briefly shut down an illegal file-sharing Web site after receiving a briefing on the site's activities from U.S. officials in April in Washington. The raid incited political and popular backlash in the Scandinavian nation.


One thing the Post have misnoticed, however: the Swedish government can not have needed a briefing on what the Pirate Bay is. That information is well-known by all involved in Sweden, since the Supreme Court of Sweden has already deemed the contents of the Pirate Bay legal. This means it has been tested by three instances - and freed. Thus the US have hardly informed the Swedish authorities about what the Pirate Bay, something they probably know better than the US government.

What remains is simply an expression of desires to see the seizing of Pirate Bay's activity. But if the Swedish government has decided to try to nullify a Swedish Supreme Court on the wishes of the US government, this is a scandal that is difficult to compare to anything else in modern Swedish history.

Meanwhile, a high-level Sony executive expresses doubts that the current hard line on filesharers that are being used by the anti-pirates in the US is not having an effect, despite RIAA claiming it "has the problem contained".

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