2007-03-28

Check out Magnatune if you haven't already

If this hasn't already been featured everywhere, it should have been.

Magnatune is a record label that started in the year 2000 from what I can gather (claims that the famous Courtney Love article was written six months after the foundation of the company, but Wikipedia says 2003). The founder's wife had been signed and completely screwed over by the record company - she lost the rights to her music for 7 years, even though the CD was out of print for many years, and received $137 in royalties, parts of which was paid out as CD copies of her own album.

So John Buckman started his own record label. It is not connected to any of the music mafia lobby groups like the RIAA. These guys don't believe in such groups.

All artists signed to the label is handpicked. Which means they sell what they believe in. And because of this, they don't screw their artists over - 50% of the sales goes to the artist.

When you browse around the site, you'll notice that you don't make a buy based on a guess. You can listen to everything, every minute of every song of every album, so you know exactly what it is that you're buying.

And when you make the buy, you download full CD qualities in several formats, with high quality album art - or you can have the CD shipped to you. If you lose your products for any reasons, it's completely okay to download it again.

There is no DRM on their products. Magnatunes doesn't like DRM. Their music can be played anywhere.

If you have a podcast that is non-commercial, or what they call "commercial but starving", you can use their music for free, due to individual deals with every individual artist. And it doesn't stop their. On their website, they outright encourage the buyer to give three copies of your purchase to friends.

The three copies limitations sounds like DRM. It's really not. It doesn't stop you from making more than three copies of files. It allowes you to do four downloads from the downloads page. So when you buy something from them, four people can download the buy.

The only thing I miss is the opportunity to buy individual tracks or designing one's own CD - one buy the entire album in a chunk from Magnatunes, in an old-fashioned style that might quickly go out of date.

2007-03-22

Cheering too soon

Recently, I reported that there is a chance that the social democrats might force a postponement on the Stasi law of defense minister Odenberg, that their own former justice minister Bodström developed before the elections last year.

I also pointed out that Bodström and the social democrats have nothing principally against mass surveillance - quite the contrary, they wouldn't mind it at all when they regain power in 2010 or 2014 - but they are now trying to take popularity points as this legislation is turning out to be a hot potatoe.

I guess I can only confirm that I was right.

The Social Democrats have started working on their own proposition of surveillance legislation.

Today the party held a hearing where critical voices could make themselves heard.

Defense minister Mikael Odenberg have adjusted his original proposition. But it is not enough, according to Board of Attorneys representative Anne Ramberg and the chairman of Directory Committee and former head of SÄPO (Swedish National Security Agency) Anders Eriksson.

Ramberg protests against the fact that the proposition that lets FRA listen in on all tele trafic and read e-mail, faxes and text messages to and from Sweden will make possible an unregulated retrieval of information.

"We are talking about surveillance on a scale that we have never been close to before," said Anne Ramberg, who think that such revolutionizing legislation must be prepared differently.

"Why such a hurry? Why not take a step back?" she asks and called for an independent body authorizing the surveillance.

Anders Eriksson agree and compared with other countries that have more far-reaching limits [to survelliance - my comment], such as the US and Germany.

Former Justice Minister Thomas Bodström also wants new rules for surveillance but he is critical of the proposition from the government.

"We will bring our own proposition where Anne Ramberg's and Anders Eriksson's views will be important", Bodström says and calls for an independent body of control.

The non-socialist parties have left an opening for changes in the proposition during its handling in parliament. The committees of defense, justice and constitution are to hold a public hearing and the decision is not to be made until June.

The governmental party MPs are happy to remind anyone that it was the social democrats that created the proposition. But Bodström says:

"We have failed the propositions of both the old government and the new one."

If the social democrats can't get support for their opinions, they will reach the minority protection the parliament provides and postpone the proposition for a year.

(Source)


So, the social democrats will make their own proposition about mass surveillance á la Eastern Germany. The main difference is that they want a control body (which they also had in Eastern Germany, by the way), and they will take the opinions of a lawyer and the former head of the Swedish Security Services into account! But they will also only postpone the decision if these changes doesn't get through.

So there is really difference at all, in other words.

But, even if we are lucky and the proposition does get postponed, we shouldn't believe we are safe just yet. Because there are three other surveillance propositions waiting to get sneaked through as well. The Pirate Party made a press release on March 13.

The social democrats have made it understood that they will probably vote with the Green Party and the Left Party for a postponement of the FRA proposition. The mass surveillance that the government has planned will then have to wait for at least a year.

"But there are three other almost identical propositions just around the corner, that threatens integrity just as much, says Pirate Party chairman Rickard Falkvinge.

Science Radio reported on March 13 on one of these propositions, one called "Availability of electronic communication in crime investigations", or SOU 2005:38. The proposition says that police is going to be able to place bugs in computers, and that internet providers are to be forced to spy on all their customers, all the time, for the benifit of the National Board of Police. The idea is that a police officer or another personal involved in state administration can watch what a person has done at a given time. The internet providers are to pay the bill for the surveillance and the gigantic database that is required.

"Just like in the case of the FRA proposition, it is a matter of mass surveillance of ordinary citizens that are not even suspected of crime. This is the wrong direction to go for our society", says Rickard Falkvinge.

Another proposition that is expected to be brought up in parliament during spring is the Data Storage Directive, due to be integrated into Swedish legislation before June. It is a EU directive from the winter of 2005, where Thomas Bodström was a key architect. Just like the proposition on electronic communications, it is about internet providers being forced to register what their customers are doing and give this information to authorities. Critics claim that this clash with the European Convention and thus can not and should not be implemented.

"From having a mail secrecy where it has been forbiden for the operators to store information about our private communications, we are now going to have laws that says that they are forced to do it, says Rickard Falkvinge. Information about all text messages, e-mails and phone calls are to be logged in a gigantic database. They are also being forced to store our movements through to"wn, by continously taking the bearings of all cellular phones."

The third proposition is the so-called Sanction Directive, or IPRED1. This is also a EU directive due to become Swedish legislation. The planned Swedish implementation give the lobby groups of movie and record companies the right to work as police and prosecutors, with more far reaching power than the real judicial system.

"This is how it works in the US, for example. There these lobby groups have put into system forcing tens of thousands of citizens to turn over all their fortunes to them, threatening to sue them for the tripple amounts if they don't comply. They have sent legal threats to 83 year old ladies and 12 year old school girls. This is nothing short of systematic and state sanctioned blackmailing, and this kind of organized crime against our citizens I don't want to see in Sweden," Falkvinge says. "Those that don't believe this could happen in Sweden can watch any other country in Europe - every place where these special interest groups have been given this authority, they act in the same fashion. They are accused of organized mafia methods, and not without reason."

"Each one of these propositions is an abomination against democracy and a direct threat against society if they are made into laws. Sweden is the second worst country in Europe when it comes to protecting our privacy. Why is the government hurrying to create the police state that is the lowest spot on the list? The Pirate Party claimed before the election that there wouldn't be much of a difference between a red or a blue government in this respect, but it is sad to see how correct with were. It is now up to Sweden to confirm that all these propositions is a breach against basic human rights conventions and to refuse to make them into laws," Falkvinge concludes.


We are currently fighting for basic democratic principles in Sweden, believe nothing else. If these propositons are passed and turned into legislation, we have a system of mass surveillance that has not been seen in Europe since well before the fall of the Iron Curtain. Back then we were on the right side of the wall. If these laws are passed, we will quickly find ourselves on the wrong side of the Telescreens.

Name the company

Who can guess the name of the company I am now describing?

5 points: One of the many companies that are effectively involved in lawsuits against itself for copyright infringments?

4 points: The company in 2005 hired graffiti artists to spray paint advertisements for one of its products in seven major US cities.

3 points: The company has been charged for price cartelling several times, including in 2005 (at least three times), 2006, and just as late as March 20, 2007.

2 points: Received fame for installing a rootkit on the computer of those that bought some of their products. They provided an uninstaller - that installed a dial-home program. They are facing several class action lawsuits regarding this matter. being sued or filed by several US states, the US federal government and sovereign states.

1 points: Provides what is probably the most over-priced game console in the world - for consumers, developers and virtually anyone else.

Answer: Sony, of course.

2007-03-19

2007-03-13

Social democrats might postpone surveillance law

Former minister of justice Thomas Bodström and another influental social democrat Ulrica Messing recommend that the law that will give FRA rights to spy on Swedish citizens be postponed a year for debate.

Thomas Bodström has no principle obligations against the idea, mind you, he simply do not think that the proposition is good enough from an integrity point of view.

Vice prime minister Maud Olofsson has an interesting way of arguing for the proposition. She says that this is merely regulating something that has been done practically for decades.

That's like making murder legal, since that has happened for a long time, and now we want to regulate how it is done.

If there is a practice that is unacceptable in society, the answer is to bring the responsible to justice. Not to legalize their actions.

2007-03-08

A large step

So, when defense minister Odenberg presents the new surveillance law to the parliament, what are the words he begins his presentation with?

Today we take an important step to improve the personal integrity of the individual.


Have I heard and read this before somewhere?

WAR IS PEACE

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

2007-03-07

Mass surveillance bill might get postponed for a year - with a little luck

According to Swedish news agency TT, the controversial mass surveillance law might be postponed for a year if enough members of the parliament demands it. Two opposition parties have already decided to try to make it so, but will need support from further MPs.

Since even MPs belonging to the parties in government are highly critical of this proposition, that would effectively put Sweden in a state of survelliance resembling that of the former Eastern Europe, the government is now trying broke a deal with the Social Democrats.

But, despite the fact that the Social Democrats have laid the groundworks of mass surveillance during the last few years, they now see a chance to play the good guys. They are not saying they are pro this bill, but they keep it "an open question." Not to be fooled, of course, chances are they will sooner or later regain power and hardly object to being a step closer to the Bodström society, now perhaps better described as the Bodström-Odenberg society. But perhaps, who knows, in a few years, people might have forgotten about how they were the once building the base for this development.

During the Pirate Demonstration last month, however, representatives of Young Pirates, youth organisation of the Swedish Pirate Party already said to Swedish Television that the main strategy was to get a postponement in the Parliament for a year, so that the matter could rise up on the agenda, since the only reason people are not reacting more powerfully on these developments is that they are simply not aware of them.

Below is the full message in my translation.

Controversial law can be stopped in parliament

On Thursday, Defense minister Mikael Odenberg is to finish the law of signal surveillance against computer and tele trafic through cable. The parliament might however stop the controversial propostion for a year.

- He can't be certain to pass this proposition this year, says former minister of justice Thomas Bodström (s).

The defense minister is hoping that the law can be put into effect on July 1 this year. It gives the right for FRA (Försvarets Radioanstalt - The Radio Institution of the Defense Forces) to keep surveillence of all tele communications to and from the country that goes through cable.

According to the constitution, a minority of 60 MPs can force a postponement for twelve months, since it is a proposition limiting freedoms and rights of individuals.

The Left party and the Green Party have already decided to try to force the postponement. Green Party mouthpiece Peter Eriksson has also demanded a debate when the proposition is handed to the Parliament. The two parties will however need support from other MPs to manage to halt the proposition for a year.

To avoid delays, Odenberg (m) have stated that he would consult with the Social Democrats concerning the prooisition. S, however, have not in advance wanted to declair their position on the matter. According to the parliaments Defense Committee chairman Ulrica Messing (s) it is an "open" question if the party is to support a delay.

Basically the Social Democrats believe that the FRA needs to be able to perform surveillence not only radio trafic, but also data- och tele communications through cable. But it has to be weighed against the protection of personal integrity, according to Messing.

Bodström also points towards a less highlighted part of the proposition, that he believes should be discussed further. The military is given the possibility to perform intelligence gathering in Sweden, something that collides with police tasks.

- We have always been clear that it is the work of the police to conduct crime investigations, and the work of the military to defend the nation.

The governmental parties have negotiated changes to strengthen personal integrity in the proposition, and have done so untill the last second before the decision was taken this Thursday.

Those who wants to delay it will have the support of statements that will be made by the Parliamentary Committee of Defense of Personal Integrity in a few weeks. The committee has investigated the laws of recent years and will come to the conclusion that there has been too little analysis of how personal integrity is affected.

Several right wing MPs in the committee are expressing criticism on that the government has not awaited the statement before pushing the proposition.

- It's not serious, says Annie Johansson (c).

Her fellow party member, former MP Agne Hansson says that integrity matters is not kept high on the agendy these days.

The controversial surveillance biil is now also facing criticism from a pure technical viewpoint. It will not be possible to separate foreign data trafic from domestic data traic, according to Patric Fältström, who has been leading the IT-political stragety group of the government for the last years, according to Swedish Radio.

It is crucial for this bill that it is possible to separate trafic within Sweden from trafic to other countries, since the FRA according to the proposition can only monitor data and telecommunications to and from other countries.

- It is extremely difficult to determine if the trafic is really passing between someone in Sweden and someone outside of Sweden. My position is that it's impossible, says Patric Fältström to Swedish Radio.

From TT.

Funny picture.


Kudos to p2pnet, who found the picture off of Tony in Holland. Thanks to you.