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It's All Legal
Week of March 11, 2005
They got a court order.
It is not without apprehension that one hears of the civil war currently brewing in Sweden. An organisation hosted online by local provider Bahnhof got a summary court order to raid the offices of their provider in search for evidence of traffic in illegal (pirate) copying of media - in particular one (1) feature film and one (1) music CD by an almost unknown group.
The actions of this organisation who call themselves the 'Anti-Piracy Bureau' have already resulted in over four thousand official complaints to the Swedish Data Authority. People are overstepping their bounds and usurping civil rights.
And turning the fair country of the North into a Big Brother police state.
The situation peaked earlier on 10 March when the raid on Bahnhof took place. Protesters have established their own web presence to voice their outrage at the actions of the Anti-Piracy Bureau, who have in turn corrupted their DNS records so that their domain points to the loopback address 127.0.0.1 so no one can access it and at least one DNS server record is corrupted. It's total war.
The Anti-Piracy Bureau and police continued their raids throughout the day, bursting into private homes all through the capital city and suburbs, on the lookout for illegal copies of one (1) feature film and one (1) music CD by an almost unknown group.
Newspapers and other media have come out in protest but up to now to no avail: the Anti-Piracy Bureau got a court order.
It's all legal.
At least one of the contributors to this website is a member of the International Swedish Composers Association - a songwriter with registered copyrighted material. None of the contributors to this website have ever used file sharing programs. None of them - not Napster, not Kazaa, not a one. There's been no interest, and what with the knowledge that most of these programs today carry spyware, there's hardly any reason to try them anymore anyway.
Steve Jobs pulled off the incredible - not in creating the iTunes Music Store but in putting an end to the war between music downloaders and the big record companies. He and his staff struggled for years to get these companies to understand and believe in his idea. The record companies ignored him and insisted on continuing with their own abortive projects for monthly subscriptions etc.
The record companies even today do all they can to get Apple to raise the prices on downloads and would gladly set the price at US$10 per song if they could. Steve Jobs continues to fight back and resist as much as he can.
For this both the musicians in the industry and the music lovers have praised him. He's popular with all the known greats and with iTunes users too, for he ended the battle that had gone on for so long.
So yes, there is a viable alternative to the present war where one side says people can do whatever they want with what they've bought and copy it for as many friends as possible whilst the other side understandably wants revenues for the IP.
And naturally running iTunes - especially on OS X - means less risk of being infected with spyware than when using any of the other file sharing programs out there today.
In other words, the answer is not to tell people to continue to download whatever they please on Windows PCs already infected beyond their bearable limit but to tell people to get a viable alternative such as implemented by Apple and iTunes.
And yet it is not right either to barge into people's homes as the police have done in Stockholm. The crime does not fit the remedy, and in this case it's a direct violation of human rights.
Just this week the EU received a proposal for the future logging of all electronic traffic - telephone, SMS, and electronic mail. Every single phone call made, every single SMS message sent, every single email message sent, should be logged.
For the authorities to use anytime in the future at their own discretion.
Ladies and gentleman - or as they say in Stockholm: mina damer och herrar - this is the essence of the police state. This is the essence of a state where citizens have lost all rights, where search and seizure can be carried out on anyone's whim, with no real justification.
Stockholm was also recently the victim of a porn raid - again right into people's homes. The booty in this case was supposedly child pornography - but with a certain twist. Sex itself is not illegal in Sweden, but depicting it with what one perceives as minors is. Note the people in the pictures don't have to be minors; the court simply has to decide the purpose of the pictures is to make the subjects look as if they are.
A twenty five year old Japanese girl can be made to look like a fifteen year old; the judge can then say she doesn't look only fifteen, but maybe seventeen and a half; as the legal limit for images - not sex - is eighteen, the images constitute child pornography.
The police raided 119 homes in the Stockholm area looking for this type of crime. Three of the people whose houses were raided committed suicide. They were never brought to trial, much less convicted: their neighbours pushed them over the edge with all the rumours of their being 'child molesters' and the like.
Some of the others will end up paying a fine (it will take years to get through the court system) whilst others will go free. In the meantime, all their lives are destroyed.
And three already decided to not wait for their day in court. Public pressure was too much.
When the day comes that authorities can wield such power over individuals; when authorities get approval to monitor (and log) all electronic traffic; when authorities by their very actions can drive what may be innocent people to suicide; on that day the countries in question have created a police state.
As bad or worse than the Orwellian one. As bad or worse than Big Brother.
And on that day, perhaps twenty one years delayed but nevertheless, Big Brother has finally arrived.
With a court order.
It's all legal.