Friday, April 17, 2009

Pirates into prisoners: Web-round up

A quick scoop into the range of reactions to the utterly pointless prison and fine sentences handed out to the Pirate Bay team.

Rhi Jones of the Orchid Thieves, via Twitter:

they should organize a series of music festivals, cheap tickets- money to charity

(in response to Drowned In Sound's requests for appropriate community punishments in place of prison)

Mike Skinner, via Twitter
I think the attitude that music should be free is wrong and their attitude sucked. artists should be selling music but cheap

The IFPI are gurgling with delight:
John Kennedy, chairman and chief executive of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, said: "We're very pleased at the verdict of what was a very important case for us.

"It would have been very difficult to put on a brave face if we had lost, but this verdict sends a strong educational and deterrent message."

Except, of course, it doesn't - who is is deterring, exactly? The Pirate Bay is still there, still online. What is the educational message? That The Pirate Bay is there, presumably. I'm not sure the IFPI have really thought this one through - sure, there are four people in prison, but what good is it doing them?

More from John Kennedy:
“The trial of the operators of The Pirate Bay was about defending the rights of creators, confirming the illegality of the service and creating a fair environment for legal music services that respect the rights of the creative community,” says IFPI chairman and CEO John Kennedy.

“Today’s verdict is the right outcome on all three counts. The court has also handed down a strong deterrent sentence that reflects the seriousness of the crimes committed. This is good news for everyone, in Sweden and internationally, who is making a living or a business from creative activity and who needs to know their rights will protected by law.”

Hey, mister - you're a major record company spokesperson, John. You do not have any grounds to speak on behalf of all the people in the world who make a living from creative activity. Let's not let victories go to our head, eh?

The IFPI's Ludwig Werner is equally giddy:
“The criminal conviction of the Pirate Bay operators will not only hearten the music and film community – it is also a huge shot in the arm for legitimate producers and entrepreneurs, who are trying to create a thriving legitimate online business based on proper respect of copyright. The court has also understood that a criminal conviction in itself is not enough, and that if creators’ rights are going to properly protected, a deterrent sentence was needed reflecting the seriousness of the crime.”

It's a huge shot in the arm, alright. It's like a whole syringe full of smack - it might make you feel good for a bit, but it won't actually make your life any better, and when you come round you'll feel a bit worse, and still won't have any visible means of support.

From the other side, The Open Rights Group suggests the music industry might not want to be popping too much champagne:

Yes, copyright should be respected. Yes, artists need to be paid. But no: illicit copying is not the problem.

The tardiness of the music industry, who after nine years of market failure have only now began to offer alternatives like Spotify, is the problem.

As yet, industry offerings are not as digital native as P2P, with its emphasis on user contribution and decentralised distribution. So they are not as likely to succeed.

Despite that, it is easy to imagine better, more convenient tools than P2P, or new services, such as mixing features, additional exclusive content, or the opportunity to directly financially support your favourite artists.

So let’s not pretend this is a straight choice between the old, centralised recording industry model and a free for all. Consumer power must trump vested interest. That is the real verdict of the Pirate Bay trial.

Just to make a pedantic, but important, point: The music industry isn't offering Spotify. Spotify came from website people, not music people.

But Open Rights is right. The RIAA/IFPI court victory today is just polishing its massive loss. The Pirate Bay grew because the record labels were hopeless at responding to what its former consumers demanded. Getting four people thrown in prison might answer their impotent rage, but it doesn't solve their problems.

And who might be next? Jack Schofield points a finger:
Following the verdict, it will be interesting to see whether the organisations behind the case -- the International Federation of the Phonographic Industries and the Motion Picture Association of America -- will now try to get Google and YouTube into court. There is no shortage of links to copyright information on Google. There is a difference, in that linking to torrent files is a byproduct of Google's ubiquitous search strategy, rather than its purpose. Still, it would be interesting to see Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt jailed as well.

In the NME, Luke Lewis starts off at a tangent:
What is unexpected is the whopping fine: they've also been ordered to pay £2.4 million in damages to record labels.

Hang on. Wasn't The Pirate Bay's defence always that their operations didn't generate any money? The reason they were so cocky – one of them even Twittered his disdain during the courtcase, saying he found it "boring" – was that they were, in legal terms, men of straw. Sue us all you like, they argued, we have no money to give.

This fine suggests otherwise. The amount would have been settled on after an audit of The Pirate Bay's accounts. There must have been significant funds. Which means The Pirate Bay's founders were lying about their motives.

"The amount would have been settled on after an audit of The Pirate Bay's accounts"? This was a criminal trial, and fines are based on damages, not ability to pay. After all, there are numerous instances of people being told to pay damages they can't possibly afford to private copyright-holding concerns. Unless Lewis also believes that maybe those single mothers are also lying when they say they can't afford to pay thousands to the RIAA?


Catty said...

The Pirate Bay shared more than just music. Why is it the record companies are the only ones bitching about it?

Jimbo said...

I wonder how many new users will be signing up to The Pirate Bay now that it's been featured all over the news (headline feature on the BBC's 1 o'clock news)?

Anonymous said...

The sentences seem excessively lenient. If the Jammie Thomas (US$222k for sharing a few dozen songs; a verdict blessed by the Bush and Obama administrations) case sets a precedent, this surely shouldn't be prosecuted as if it were a common domestic burglary, but should be regarded as the equivalent of handing out devices that made perfect copies of dollar bills to anyone who asked for one. Currency counterfeiting is an act of war under international law; so under this, TPB are non-state agents waging economic war against the US and other countries, or not to put too fine a point on it, economic terrorists. A proportionate sentence would be measured in three digits; these boys would die in jail.

I am surprised that the IFPI and US State Department are satisfied with the sentences, and not preparing an appeal or an extradition bid.

Olive said...

Another solid and well researched piece of journalism from the NME there.

By the way, any IFPI representatives reading this: remind me how many music business executives received jail time when they were found running a cartel to artificially inflate the price of CD's?

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