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.