Which side are you on in The Pirate Bay case?

A week before the verdict is announced in The Pirate Bay case, The Local's regular panelists have their say in the great file sharing debate.

Which side are you on in The Pirate Bay case?

Marcus Cederström

Marcus Cederström

I’m going to pull out my Swedish passport on this one and claim to be neutral.

The problem is that I understand the desire of artists and film companies not wanting their intellectual property being accessed for free. That is their livelihood. They depend on the income from the creation of their work. I wouldn’t be all that pleased if I went to work every day creating amazing marketing material (which I obviously do) only to find out that someone else was using it without handing me my paycheck.

That being said, I place some of the blame on the people who distribute music and film. They have failed to evolve with the technology that hosts their work. They have failed to realize that music and film are no longer consumed as they once were.

Instead of embracing the new medium, the music and film industry fought against it. Much like newspapers in the United States were unable to evolve with the advent of online news, the music and film industry has been unable to work effectively with the online world.

In the end, I don’t know where I stand. I do know that I have never used the Pirate Bay. Take that for what it is worth.

Claudia Tenenblat

Claudia Tenenblat

I agree with the idea that authors have rights over their creations, whether those are music, pictures, films or paintings.

In this sense, file sharing should be considered piracy. However, file sharing is also a widespread reality and the industry must find another way to protect copyright, other than trying to forbid the inevitable.

There are some ideas around, such as collecting fees from internet providers on a monthly basis and putting them into a pool to compensate the authors, for example. The fact is the current model is outdated and even if the “Pirates” are convicted – as seems likely – the copyright/free download issue won’t go away.

Sanna Holmqvist

Sanna Holmqvist

My basic view on this is that people should get paid for the job they do. Composers, filmmakers, writers and painters alike. Just like everyone else.

I am a journalist myself, and I don’t particularly appreciate it if someone steals something I have written and makes money from it without compensating me. Who would?

Just because it is possible and easy to do it, it is still not right (just as shoplifting is not). I haven’t been following this case closely enough to say anything about the people that are in charge, but nothing this far has impressed me very much or changed my conviction that it should be the people doing the job who earn the money from it. No one else.

You might say that most of the people downloading don’t make money from it either; they just listen to the music. But they do make money, in the sense that they do not pay when they ought to.

Robert Flahiff

Robert Flahiff

Actually, I hope they both lose. My problem is that both parties take their point of view and opinions to the extreme. As a rule, I want to know that when I buy a product whether it be a book, music, or film, that the money being made by it goes to the artists that actually produced it.

On one hand, I see the record and film industries as bloated, greedy enterprises grasping tooth and nail to an antiquated business model that is inefficient and totally out of touch with today’s consumer and should die a natural capitalist death.

On the other hand, the Pirates’ point of view that they can just take whatever they want without reimbursement to the creators of the content they “share” is so foolish as to not warrant discussion.

What is really needed here is a system that gets media to people the way they want it – fairly, cheaply and on-demand. If the record and film companies can do this, they will be saved.

Simple case in point – a standard Swedish Compact Disc. Say you groove on the new Lars Kristerz disc just released. You can pony up the 179 kronor for it at your local Quik-E-Mart or maybe save a few kronor on an on-line retailer, who will then screw you on shipping charges (another topic for another day).

You get your disc and are glad. Are you 179 kronor glad when you know from experience that burning a disc of music yourself at home costs about nothing and maybe a bit more when you print out the liner notes? And the band maybe gets 10 kronor of the cash for each disc? Nope. And that is why a person like myself would be tempted to “share” from a site like Pirate Bay. But that would really screw the poor slobs in the band – they get nothing in this model.

I like what bands are trying now – releasing music for download themselves and asking the listener to pay what they want. I am a fan of this idea because I know the artists get the proceeds and will work to keep production standards professional.

I know I could only stand so many “movies” on YouTube or the sound quality of some mp3 downloads. Even book publishers are starting “print on demand”, which may help them in the long run.

A pet peeve of mine lately is internet video stream blocking by sites like NBC, HBO, and Hulu – these companies are practically begging me to go to Pirate Bay and screw them over. I think that is a perfect example of squeezing sand so hard it runs through the fingers, as they try to hold control over their content.

Tiffany Hoffman

Tiffany Hoffman

The Pirate Bay is a service which has been used to traffic copyrighted material, but that’s not its intent. What people choose to upload or download on the web is an individual matter.

Through Google a person can find information on making bombs or murder, so does that mean that the Google team is responsible for murder? Of course not. Both Google and Pirate Bay are outlets for distribution. Trying to make an example of the Pirate Bay guys will solve nothing.

As for the new IPRED law–I can see the benefits for the industry, but it’s unnerving to think of giving up rights of anonymity online. Instead of trying to catch the criminals after the act, I think it makes more sense to come up with a better solution to the overall problem.

With the internet, there are greater risks of copyright infringement and there is less protection and privacy. If technology gurus are figuring out ways to beat the system, then there should be an equal number of technology solutions that keep the system intact.

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Wikimedia ‘breaks copyright’ with Swedish statue photos

Sweden’s supreme court ruled on Monday that the non-profit internet giant Wikimedia breaches Sweden’s copyright laws by publishing photos of public artworks.

Wikimedia 'breaks copyright' with Swedish statue photos
Gothenburg's iconic Poseidon statue by Carl Milles. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT

The controversial judgement is a victory for the Visual Copyright Society in Sweden (Bildupphovsrätt i Sverige – BUS), which sued Wikimedia at Stockholm District Court for publishing photos of Swedish public sculptures and other public artworks without first getting permission from the artists. 

“We are naturally very disappointed,” Wikimedia's Swedish operations manager Anna Troberg told The Local after the supreme court gave its guidance to the district court. 

“We view this as an anachronistic and restrictive interpretation of copyright laws. It also runs counter to recommendations from the European Court of Human Rights.”

Wikimedia is the group behind the free online encyclopaedia Wikipedia. It has created a vast online knowledge repository by allowing members of the public to group-edit entries and upload pictures to its pages for educational purposes. 

In its judgement the supreme court affirmed that Swedish copyright law does permit members of the public to take pictures of public artworks. But, the court said, “it is different when it’s a database where artworks are made available to the public to an unlimited extent without copyright-holders receiving any remuneration.”

“A database of this kind can be deemed to have a commercial value that is not inconsiderable,” the supreme court said in a statement.  

“The court rules that the copyright-holders are entitled to this value. It is not relevant whether or not Wikimedia has a commercial aim.” 

Wikimedia’s Anna Troberg said the group would now consult its lawyer and its parent foundation in the United States before deciding what action to take. 

“Our priority now will be to re-shape the debate, because clearly this is an outdated judgement. It is in no way in tune with the times that somebody should face legal repercussions for taking photos of public artworks that we have all paid for with our taxes.”