Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Never Agree to Hold Someone's Jacket...

The Pirate Bay has fallen. It was a spectacular trial with all kinds of interesting arguments thrown back and forth, including Perry Mason-style antics with surprise witnesses and lawyers getting chewed out by the judge for pulling them.

But in the end - the truly miserable part is WHY they all got a year in prison and a fine that maybe three people I have ever met could ever possibly pay :

"responsibility for assistance can strike someone who has only insignificantly assisted in the principal crime"

Prosecutor HÃ¥kan Roswall cited in his closing arguments a Supreme Court of Sweden opinion that a person holding the jacket of someone committing battery can be held responsible for the battery. - Wikipedia

This is a very tenuous claim to justify a Scorch the Earth policy of law enforcement. Everyone was found guilty of being an accessory to the 'crime' of copyright infringement. Mind you - there are no charges against anyone for those actual crimes. So it's a lot like buying a case with no iPhone to put in it just so that all of your friends who have them think that you have one too.

Why did I put the word 'crime' in quotes? Because copyright infringement IMHO is something that is more applicable to be dealt with in civil court. Having corporate sponsored raids on internet sharing facilities sounds a LOT like selective enforcement to me.

If I wrote a song and some local band was playing it in a bar - can I call in the cops to raid the place? How about if you plagiarize something that I have written?

What if a record company stole a song that I wrote, had someone else record it & released the album - do I get to call a raid on their CD-duplication factory?

And there it is - ONLY corporations get any kind of justice department backing for their copyright infringements. That is highly suspect and puts the public in a position where the ONLY power that they can claim is by doing something illegal.

It comes down to this - the record companies & movie studios only wanted to sell us their products on round pieces of plastic. So we - the technical people - figured out how to put that on a wire when they refused to consider it. Now that we can do it for free - they want to charge for it. The ONLY value that they can add is that "you're not going to be arrested/sued/fined".

As for stealing from the artists? The distribution companies robbed them blind to get their content to begin with. You can't steal from someone who has been mugged already.

No comments: