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TPB: The Trial and Beyond

Does the outcome really matter?


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In a recent interview Peter Sunde and Fredrik Neij were given the trick question 'what would you tell Hollywood?' Peter gave a nod to Fredrik and Fredrik, a man of few words, seemed ready to burst to give the answer.

'Open a torrent site just like The Pirate Bay and sell your own ads. And distribute content freely without DRM, without restrictions, and have it ad-based. If the site was totally legal with only totally legal content for the end users they could make money from it. And we would be out of business.'

Peter Sunde has often said - and as late as the evening before the trial began on Uppdrag Gransking - that he didn't think the trial's outcome mattered much. The trial was weathering the file sharing issues and that was important but beyond that it didn't matter much at all. With no priors (unlike Carl Lundström) the TPB founders are unlikely to be given time in stir and the appeals would carry on forever. And the era when TPB was based in Sweden is long gone anyway.

'Teknik slår alltid politik', said media mogul Jan Stenbeck. Technology always beats politics. 'Man måste räkna med svinn i alla branscher', goes the old saying. One has to count on waste in all industries. And a casual glance in the rear view mirror tells us two things.

  1. Nothing ever really threatens Hollywood. They keep whinging but that makes not one iota of difference. They continue to rake it in. Yet people keep forgetting this and for a short time some of them sympathise with the wrong side.

  2. The media companies never learn their lessons either. When asked why they didn't come up with Fredrik's solution (which is admittedly brilliant) Peter and Fredrik didn't have anything to offer. Not only do the media companies totally lack any semblance of the creativity that once upon a time got their businesses going but all they seem to be able to do today is intimidate and harass people. Talk about good customer relations.

Ever since Metallica the media companies have been systematically alienating their buying public - to the point a lot of people that otherwise would have preferred buying their media won't do so any longer just to spite the bastards.

To think there's a war on over 'immaterial' rights - think about it. It's vicious. Hollywood are trying to scare the shit out of people - akin as one historian put it to plundering a village, chopping off a few heads, and putting them on stakes to keep the rest of them subdued.

And 'immaterial' - that's a word with different connotations in different cultures. In Germany and many countries in Europe it refers to 'intellectual property' whilst in English speaking countries it strongly implies 'irrelevant'. Which just about sums things up today.

Radio stations such as Swedish pioneer Radio Seven are threatened by this war as well. They've been streaming music all over the Internet for quite some time - legally in fact. But they're waiting for the media companies to jump in and start changing the rules again, requiring they block access for IP groups. It never ends.

The DVD regions - what are they good for? They're good for peanut gallery shows for the movie subcontractors, explained Hollywood insider Blonde a while back. These subcontractors aren't paid up front anymore. They get to see their names in lights at the end of the movies when everyone's already left their seats and rushing to the parking lot. And they get a cut on rental revenues - you know: that new industry the media companies opposed to the point they called it 'the Boston Strangler for a woman in Boston'. Which as we all know more than doubled their revenues. But they kept on bitching anyway.

Peter Sunde did a quick survey of MySpace, TPB, and YouTube, looking for copyrighted material. Google have lots at YouTube and Rupert has a lot at MySpace but nobody's bothering them. And it turned out with a random selection of 1,000 titles at all three sites that TPB had significantly fewer copyrighted links than the other two.

Monty Python just released their entire catalogue on YouTube in high quality MP4. And thereby increased their DVD sales by 23000% overnight. And still the greedos of Hollywood don't catch on. Is it about money or is it just 'don't touch my ball'?

No one cares what happens to the media companies in Hollywood anymore. People care about the artists themselves but not the suits. The suits are always trying to screw everyone - their customers and their clients both. They don't get any sympathy. By definition. They're the antipode of artistic to the last one.

Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, and Mary Pickford once upon a time got sick and tired of the old studio system in Hollywood and started their own production company. United Artists. Who ran all the 007 movies until Michael Cimino drove them into bankruptcy. Now they're with Sammie Goldwyn and Louie B Mayer. But it's the thought that counts - your run of the mill Hollywood mogul is a rat.

The verdict in the TPB case will be appealed no matter which way it goes. This will go on for years. Years from now it'll be a different world we live in. Who knows? Maybe Spotify will have taken over by then.

Although it's only available in seven countries (unless you have a good selection of open proxies) Spotify caught the entire world off guard and showed that even TPB's a thing of the past. Who wants to assemble piles and piles of CDs when you can get what you want faster from the cloud? The cloud is cheaper and easier!

And bandwidth might not permit it today but by tomorrow there will be film based Spotifies. What does it cost to rent a movie from Blockbuster? How many times per month do you do it? What's a $20 monthly subscription fee for 'all you can eat' against that?

They'll make money, those Hollywood rats. They always do, as Rick Falkvinge told them point blank. They'll adapt a model like Fredrik Neij told them to do and they'll stop complaining and go out and do what they're supposed to do again.

Rip people off and make lots of money. But they'll do it from behind the curtains. They'll stop harassing people. So they don't get people angry at them all the time.

And then the world can move on and relax. Until the next great technology breakthrough.

I love bandwidth! I have 100 megabits at home and I want a gig!
 - Fredrik Neij

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