Three strikes discussed in Singapore

The Straits Times reports that Singapore is joining the group of countries considering (or implementing) the three strikes law to fight illegal copyright violation. Or as the newspaper buts it:

terminating Internet access of hardcore pirates who refuse to quit despite repeat warnings.

Three strikes is already in force in South Korea and has been proposed in Britain, France and New Zealand.

The problem with these types of laws is that the internet connection is not a personal item but is shared with others Closing an internet connection negatively effects the whole group of users who rely on there internet connections to carry out their daily lives. Not to mention the difficulty of what to do when other family members apply for a new connection to the same address as the blocked user.

Pirate Bay Guilty

The Stockholm court found all four defendents guilty. One year in prison and 30 million kronors in damages. This is a very stiff sentence by Swedish standards. Let the discussions begin…

TGI Friday with high anticipation

Can you feel the excitment in the air? It’s happening tomorrow. Yes it is Friday and the weekend weather is looking great but thats not what I am talking about. Tomorrow the courts will present their ruling for the Pirate Bay Case. It promises to be an interesting read.

Why numbers don't mean much – file sharing in Sweden

Presentation is everything. Shame that the truth may interupt an otherwise nice story. The Guardian was not alone among international media commenting on the implementation of IPRED (Directive on the enforcement of intellectual property rights) in Sweden. The article entitled Swedish internet use plummets after filesharing curb introduced began:

Internet traffic in Sweden – previously a hotbed of illicit filesharing – has fallen dramatically following the introduction of a law banning online piracy.

Lets begin with some of the obvious errors. The “hotbed of illicit filesharing” is a strange thing to call Sweden. We have a high Internet/broadband penetration and the Pirate Bay was launched and maintained by Swedes but there is no way that a county with 9 million inhabitants could be at the top of the file sharing list?

The fact that TPB was launched in Sweden does not mean that its users are Swedish or in Sweden – this is basic stuff – so did the writer want to increase the sensationalism in the article or doesn’t he understand how the Internet works? Check out this map of TPB users around the world.

TPB Tracker Geo Statistics
The statistics is now based on unique users connected per minute! Should provide alot more accurate data.
Keep in mind that a torrent client usually only connects to the tracker once every 15-20 minutes.

The next problem is that the measurements of the 30-50% drop in traffic (depending upon who you read) seems to be that the measurements where taken from a much too small sample and the drop mirrors a similar drop on the measured servers occurring at the same time last year (Sources in Swedish here).

Yes, there are file sharers in Sweden and yes one of the most popular torrent trackers was founded in Sweden. But the files are uploaded and downloaded from all locations across the world and a large dip in traffic may mean a number of things. Having said that there is no doubt that a number of users turned of their file sharing when IPRED entered into force – but only to begin searching for anonymity tools. It is extremely likely that the users who stopped file sharing will return since there is still no viable legal alternative.

Comedy and copyright violation

Copyright violation has been linked to terrorism before and it was a stupid then as it is now. Can you imagine terrorists sitting in caves in Afghanistan downloading stuff from the Pirate Bay to destroy western civilization? This is such far fetched propaganda that it should just be seen as excellent comedy – if it wasn’t being proposed by “serious” people and will eventually believed by people in power. Scary.

From Infocult:

Linking copyright violation and terrorism is back.   “Film Piracy, Organized Crime, and Terrorism” (pdf) starts by linking pirates and gangsters, claiming to have found:

compelling evidence of a broad, geographically dispersed, and continuing connection between film piracy and organized crime.

The Rand study goes on to leap onto terrorism:

Moreover, three of the documented cases provide clear evidence that terrorist groups have used the proceeds of film piracy to finance their activities.

Torrentfreak does a good job of taking this apart.  One key piece: the study explicitly conflates counterfeiting and copyright infringement.  Also important is the loose linkage between different people, functions, and crimes.

Sweden voted yes to Ipred

At four pm today, following a long debate in parliament the IPRED legislation (based on the European Union’s Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED)) went through. Those in favor claim that the law is necessary to protect the rights of copyright holders by allowing them to demand file-sharers identification data from Internet service providers.

The opponents of the law (in parliament these are the Left and Green Parties) argue that the law is an unfair balance which gives the copyright holders too much power and is not enough to protect users privacy. In addition there is a great concern that the legislation will be abused.

Horrocks cartoon


This cool cartoon has been making the rounds online and I thought it was so cool that I would add it to my blog. IN addition to being a great cartoon it also has the caption “This cartoon is NOT copyright by Dylan Horrocks ’09”

Dylan Horrocks has at least two blogs (here and here) and a website.

Nice one Dylan!

The pirates King Kong defence

The Pirate Bay trial is into it’s fourth day and is being reported by bloggers, tweeters, reporters and commentators. It is almost impossible to miss this media event. This is also part of the problem since the trial itself has become larger than life and more interesting than the actual law. In reality the participants are less than exciting and the law plods along in its usual manner.

Things worth noting so far:

The prosecutor strangely decided to alter the charges (dropping copying and focusing on making available) – this is not uncommon but it was strange that it should occur on day two after a year of preparations. At the same time this doesn’t alter much even though it may importantly effect the damages that can be awarded.

The decription of the bittorent technology involved was badly explained. This is even more surprising as the prosecutors description of the facts should have been acceptable to all. Instead everyone is left with the impression that the prosecutor and his surrounding team is not tech savvy at all.

One of the defence lawyers used the “King Kong defence” when he stated that the prosecutor must show that the defendant has personally interacted with the copyright infringer. Even many users use aliases like King Kong and may well be in the jungles of Cambodia the prosecutor must show such personal interaction. This is a development of the Chewbacca defense.


The trial of the decade! Or maybe a non-event?

Tomorrow the long awaited file sharing/internet piracy trial will begin. The Times Online called it the Internet piracy trial of the decade. It’s the Pirate Bay website (or rather four men behind the site) that go on trial for enabling millions of internet users to make illegal downloads of music, movies, games and software. The courts will look into subjects like

– what is a link

– what is a search engine

– aiding criminal offences

Most of the stuff is interesting from a legal-technical point of view since the outcome will hardly have any effect on file sharing on the Internet. The most probably outcome will be a court “victory” for the copyright industry and an appeal to the next level. The case will move towards the inevitable Supreme Court trial. The whole affair should be very interesting and yet, in practical terms, not relevant the total amount of file sharing online. User may have to switch to another provider or service but most probably the Pirate Bay will remain online in some form.

The story so far on ars technica, Times Online, Guardian. Also take a look at the Pirate Bays own dedicated trial site The Spectrial.

To understand how big this is take a look at the torrent user statistics on a map in real time here. Killing a website like the Pirate Bay will not stop this.

File Sharing and Cannibalization

Fred Benenson comments the Nine Inch Nails Ghosts I-IV album over at the Creative Commons blog. The album is a great example that tears apart the arguments put forward by many “content” industry know-it-alls.

The argument, often repeated, is that putting material online will destroy all sales and therefore profits. There are several examples of books making great sales even after the content has been made available for free online. But thick academic books have been seen as a strange exception to the rule. In a recent discussion with a Swedish publisher they included the condition that making material available online only could work in English books – the Swedish market was too small to cope.

But books are not the only successful free content. The Nine Inch Nails Ghosts I-IV album is available online via file sharing networks – the entire content was licensed via Creative Commons license (BY-NC-SA) which allowed users to download it legally and many, many did so. But the fascinating thing is that Ghosts I-IV is ranked the best selling MP3 album of 2008 on Amazon’s MP3 store.

NIN Best Selling MP3 AlbumNIN’s Creative Commons licensed Ghosts I-IV has been making lots of headlines these days.

First, there’s the critical acclaim and two Grammy nominations, which testify to the work’s strength as a musical piece. But what has got us really excited is how well the album has done with music fans. Aside from generating over $1.6 million in revenue for NIN in its first week, and hitting #1 on Billboard’s Electronic charts, has the album ranked as the 4th-most-listened to album of the year, with over 5,222,525 scrobbles.

The natural question is why fans bother buying files that were identical to the ones on the file sharing networks? According to Fred explanations vary from the convenience and ease of use of NIN and Amazon’s MP3 stores to the desire of fans to support the music and career of musicians they like.

The point is that “the next time someone tries to convince you that releasing music under CC will cannibalize digital sales, remember that Ghosts I-IV broke that rule, and point them here.”