Avery Morrow Falkvinge on Infopolicy: July 13, 2012 http://falkvinge.net/2012/07/13/new-japanese-copyright-law-doesnt-seem-to-make-any-sense/ Beginning this October Japan will experience a totally new copyright regime. Piracy in Japan has always been especially dangerous. The police monitor file sharing networks, and pirates will occasionally be raided by cops and have their computers displayed on the evening news. From 2012 on, though, violators can face two years in prison for criminal downloading. But what exactly makes a download criminal? The Agency for Cultural Affairs, which oversees the law, is having a hard time defining what, exactly, constitutes criminal piracy under the new law. First, let’s address the definition of the word “download”. With this new law, you have a blanket permission to stream any and all pirated YouTube videos, but saving permanent copies of these videos will be a big no-no. However, saving comic strips from websites will be fine, and you can copy and paste all the text you like, because the Agency for Cultural Affairs has interpreted the word “download” as implying an audiovisual recording and not any other type of binary data. There is no stated logic behind this, and there has not yet been any ruling on, say, converting a video into a picture of a film strip. Next, the Agency for Cultural Affairs gives us a rather inspired ruling of “illegal download”: it claims that TV shows which have been broadcast and are not yet available on DVD or Blu-Ray may be downloaded freely, because they were broadcast for free! However, you can still be sued for piracy as a civil offense. Furthermore, there are existing criminal charges for people who upload such videos. Let’s move along to recordings of unknown provenance, which curious readers often find on the Internet. Most of the law requires that you have an intent to acquire works illegally when you download, which does not appear to be easily provable. In fact, there does not appear to be anyone in Japan who believes that intent can be proven if there is some doubt at work. One lawyer guesses that “it’s hard to imagine that songs have been officially allowed to go on peer-to-peer networks,” so making Gnutella your tool of choice for finding those great Jonathan Coulton songs will apparently make you a suspicious character. How does an artist make it clear that his material is safe to download? The Agency for Cultural Affairs asks Internet users to look for a recording industry trademark called the L Mark, but this trademark can’t be used by just anyone; artists must join the Recording Industry Association of Japan and pay money to use the mark, which is currently employed by no more than 300 websites. There is no word on whether a Creative Commons mark or public domain declaration can serve as a defense against inappropriate claims of criminal copyright violation. Once you have your legally acquired music and movies, you mustn’t pirate them, but feel free to e-mail them to others. E-mailing MP3s or videos to a specific friend remains legal in Japan, assuming you are not offering them as a service to pirates. You can even e-mail entire CDs that you ripped, within some reasonable limit. However, you are not allowed to circumvent the copyright protection on the few CDs that have it, so keep your hands off that Shift key. This is not legal advice, but the law is so vague that it would be surprising if it had a large impact on the number of prosecutions. Most legal cases in Japan are dropped before trial if guilt cannot be established, and plea bargained by the Kensatsu before they go to court, which is why there is an almost 100% conviction rate. Past cases suggest that only the most serious violators, like people who upload TV shows to file-sharing networks, will face prosecution. Source: Agency for Cultural Affairs (Japanese) Avery Morrow is a freelance writer specializing in history and Internet-related topics. He has worked as an intern in the U.S. Congress and with various political groups. He was born in the United States and currently lives in Japan.
Agence France-Presse: July 13, 2012
An 18-year-old Slovak is facing up to five years behind bars for posting links sharing pirated movie downloads on the Internet, police in the capital Bratislava said in a statement Friday.
An 18-year-old Slovak is facing up to five years behind bars for posting links sharing pirated movie downloads on the Internet, police in the capital Bratislava said in a statement Friday.
“He stands accused of copyright violation for posting download links to at least 150 movies on various discussion forums on the Internet,” it said.
“Since 2008, he has caused copyright holders damage worth 96,750 euros ($118,175),” the police added.
Downloading movies or music for personal use is legal in Slovakia but it is illegal to share the downloaded content on the Internet, either for commercial use or for free.
According to the justice ministry, 12 people were convicted of copyright violations in Slovakia last year.
July 17, 2012
TorrentFreak: July 9, 2012
An unprecedented new report has detailed how the destruction of Napster chilled a decade’s worth of innovation in the music industry. Through interviews with 31 CEOs, company founders, and VPs who operated in digital music during the period, we hear how Big Music collapsed startups, turned down ‘blank check’ deals, and personally threatened innovators with ruination for both them and their families.
By interviewing 31 CEOs, company founders and VPs who operated in the digital music scene during the past 10 years, Associate Professor Michael A. Carrier at Rutgers University School of Law has produced a most enlightening report on the decade long aftermath of the Napster shutdown.
The interviewees are no lightweights. Included are former Napster CEO Hank Bank, Imeem founder Dalton Caldwell, Seeqpod founder Kasian Franks, Real Networks founder Rob Glaser, Scour VP & General Counsel Craig Grossman, former Gracenote CEO David Hyman, AudioGalaxy founder Michael Merhej, founder of MP3Tunes Michael Robertson, former RIAA CEO Hilary Rosen, and numerous venture capitalists and label execs.
The result is an unprecedented report on how the shutdown of Napster chilled innovation, discouraged investment, and led to a climate of copyright law-fueled fear that pushed technologists and music further apart.
It started with a drain on cash. Interviewees reported that venture capital funding for digital music “became a wasteland”, a “scorched earth kind of place” housing a “graveyard of music companies.” With the big labels choosing where and when to sue, funding was hard to come by.
Nevertheless, some innovators didn’t give up, although when the labels were through with them many probably wished they had. The report details instances where innovators tried to get label approval but found themselves in extremely difficult situations.
One recalled that the labels “don’t license you if you don’t have traffic” but once enough footfall is achieved then “they want to get paid for ‘infringement’ and the longer it takes to license you, the larger the ‘infringement’ number they can justify charging you.”
Another described a litigation “Ponzi scheme” whereby settlements and other fees extracted from startups were used to fund the labels’ ongoing litigation strategy. However, like all Ponzi schemes there was a problem – maintaining momentum. “Once you stop suing new people there are no new settlements to pay for the ongoing litigation,” one interviewee reported.
But the labels weren’t always unreceptive to new ideas – as long as they were bad ones. The report notes that the labels were happy to take “big, up-front fees” of “10, 20 million bucks” from startups they knew wouldn’t make it. Carrier reports that a leading officer from one label admitted that they would “cripple the companies by demanding such advances and guarantees that they go belly up.”
Established services couldn’t make progress with the labels either, even when they did everything they could to avoid copyright issues. One, that boasted several million users and “interest from top-tier VCs – really the top of the top,” was also sued by the labels.
“After they sued us, our opening offer to them was: ‘You guys made your point; we will charge anything you want to charge, and you can take any percentage you want to take,” a respondent reported. “It was literally an offer of a blank check.” The labels refused and said they wanted the service shut down instead.
But for those who didn’t give in to the threats life could get very difficult, not just for their companies, but for them as individuals. The specter of personal liability often raised its head.
One innovator was told by the labels that his company would be left alone but he would be sued personally instead. “We can make all kinds of allegations and it’s your job to prove you’re not infringing,” he was told, with the labels adding that the lawsuit would cost him “between $15m and $20m.”
One of the respondents said it was “very scary” when the labels presented a “..multiple inch lawsuit for a couple billion bucks”, one with the potential to hang over his head for “the rest of [his] life.”
The threats also extended to the families of innovators. One was told it was “too bad” he had children “..who are going to want to go to college and you’re not going to be able to pay for it.”
Astonishingly, in some cases threats turned into actual violence. One respondent told Carrier about his experiences in the rap business of “people being physically intimidated” and “being hung out of windows.”
The strength of the threats were augmented by the uncertainty inherent in copyright law. One innovator said it was like a protection racket or the way politics work in corrupt countries where everything is OK until it’s not OK.
“You do what you want until one day you can’t and they come and your tail light’s broken.”
The full 63-page report, Copyright and Innovation: The Untold Story, is available here.
July 9, 2012
Agence France-Presse: July 6, 2012
The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva passed its first resolution on Internet freedom on Thursday with a call for all states to support individuals’ rights online as much as offline.
The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva passed its first resolution on Internet freedom on Thursday with a call for all states to support individuals’ rights online as much as offline.
Despite opposition on the issue from countries including China, Russia and India, countries promoting the resolution hailed the support of dozens of nations ahead of its adoption.
“This outcome is momentous for the Human Rights Council,” US ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe told reporters.
“It’s the first UN resolution that confirms that human rights in the Internet realm must be protected with the same commitment as in the real world.”
The text had the support of 85 co-sponsors, 30 of whom are members of the HRC, Donahoe added.
Of the states that supported the initiative, Tunisia’s ambassador Moncef Baati said it was particularly important for his country because of the role accredited to social networking websites in ousting president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.
“The most important result of the Tunisian revolution is this right to freedom of expression…(this) is very important at the moment (in Tunisia) and it is for this reason that there is a strong commitment in Tunisia to consolidate Internet rights.
“Our link with all media networks during the revolution doubles the importance of this commitment to freedom of expression on the Internet which remains a major tool for economic development.”
Other countries that backed the resolution on the Promotion, Protection and Enjoyment of Human Rights on the Internet included Brazil, Nigeria, Sweden and Turkey.
July 9, 2012
[CJ Hinke of FACT comments: In general, we’ve liked the maverick style of Ron Paul, even if his son Rand is a wingnut over such issues as abortion. The Pauls are a good example of why citizens can’t trust any politician, ever. And now the Pauls seem not to have a basic understanding of our Internet. It ain't all about America. Netizens have painfully discovered that we cannot trust anybody's govts to protect our freedoms. Hillary Clinton, for example, epitomises talking about Internet freedom and no more. It's up to us to defend the Internet, not any politicians, including the Pauls.]
Our Internet does not require regulation. The Declaration of Internet Freedom to which FACT is founding signatory keeps it simple and keeps govt out of it.
In contrast, the Pauls’ proposals are complex and involve far too much govt, something they claim to oppose! Frankly, they don’t get the whole concept.
The Internet = individual liberty = public space. Let’s keep it that way and keep govts out of it.]
Ron Paul Takes Up Internet Freedom With New ‘Technology Revolution’ Manifesto
Forbes Magazine: July 5, 2012
An image of the U.S. flag is reflected in the lens of a supporter of U.S. Republican presidential candidate, Congressman Ron Paul, at a rally outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 22, 2012. (Daylife)
Buzzfeed’s Rosie Gray has an interesting story on the new direction the Ron Paul Revolution appears to be taking, moving away from the archaic finance-driven End-the-Fed campaign and toward something more pressing and applicable to the lives of today’s young people: Internet freedom.
A new Paul manifesto from both Ron and Rand Paul called “The Technology Revolution” will serve as the backbone for this new front in the Paul-founded Campaign For Liberty.
Young people have been a driving force in the Paul campaign, and the focus on internet freedom should only bolster that support.
Following in the wake of numerous attempts by the government to regulate various aspects of the internet – from SOPA to ACTA and any number of other bills and trade agreements – the document lays out a digital laissez-faire approach to internet freedom.
“The revolution is occurring around the world,” the document reads. “It is occurring in the private sector, not the public sector. It is occurring despite wrongheaded attempts by governments to micromanage markets through disastrous industrial policy. And it is driven by the Internet, the single greatest catalyst in history for individual liberty and free markets.”
Warning of “internet collectivists” out to appropriate the language of freedom, the new Manifesto argues that further regulation of the internet will lead to less freedom online rather than more. They argue that any attempt by the government to increase its regulatory power is ludicrous, noting the hypocrisy in advocating that ”private sector data collection practices must be scrutinized and tightly regulated inthe name of ‘protecting consumers,’ at the same time as government’s warrantless surveillance and collection of private citizens’ Internet data has dramatically increased.”
The new document serves as something of a counterpoint to the recently released Declaration of Internet Freedom, an online petition put together by Free Press which urges an end to censorship but also the promotion of universal access to the internet.
“Internet collectivists are clever,” the manifesto reads. “They are masters at hijacking the language of freedom and liberty to disingenuously pushfor more centralized control. ‘Openness’ means government control of privately owned infrastructure.’Net neutrality’ means government acting as arbiter and enforcer of what it deems to be ‘neutral’.”
I’ve always had a soft spot for Ron Paul, even though he’s far more conservative and far more libertarian than I am. I have a soft spot for internet freedom as well, and have written about the various threats to that freedom at one time or another.
But I’m a little irked by some of the language of this document, truth be told, even though I’m always happy to see more people up in arms about things like internet censorship.
I’ve argued before that what this country really needs is a Civil Liberties Caucus in congress – not a right-leaning or left-leaning one, either. We need people like Ron Wyden on the left and Ron Paul on the right, even though they may not agree on everything, who are willing to go up against civil-liberty-quashing laws and attempts at censorship. I want people to start voting with this as a priority, regardless of ideological labels (a task that is, truthfully, much harder than it sounds.)
In other words, the last thing we need is one group of civil liberties advocates calling the other group “internet collectivists.” The stakes are too high. The number of elected officials who even care about blocking a bill like SOPA is frighteningly small to begin with. It’s all too People’s Front of Judea for me.
Of course, there really are very real philosophical differences between small government advocates like Ron Paul and his civil libertarian colleagues on the left.
Someone like me would happily sign on to the Declaration of Internet Freedom, for instance, and would gladly support government efforts to get more people online.
Is the internet a human right? I’m not sure it matters, honestly. Internet Access is an important piece of our human and societal and economic infrastructure. Investing public dollars to get more people online (especially rural people and the poor) just makes sense, especially when you dispense with the largely fruitless “rights” language that has become a crutch more than anything in political discussion lately. I believe in human rights, but more often than not both the right and the left appropriate rights language and freedom-speak to score political points.
So here’s a question for both members of the right and the left (and libertarians!) who care about internet freedom: is it worth setting aside your differences just a little bit and working against a common enemy? Is ideological purity more important than results? Where does principle leave off and pragmatism begin?
Because, quite frankly, I don’t care if you’re a collectivist or if you’re John Galt.
If you want to stop censorship and rein in an increasingly intrusive anti-piracy regime, that’s all I care about. That and the results.
I’ve reached out to the Campaign For Liberty about the new manifesto and its implications, and will publish something more detailed on the matter soon.
You can read the manifesto here.
The Technology Revolution
A Campaign for Liberty Manifesto
This is what a technology revolution looks like:
New innovators create vast new markets where none existed previously;
Individual genius enabled by the truly free market the Internet represents routes around obsolete and ineffective government attempts at control;
The arrogant attempts of governments to centralize, intervene, subsidize, micromanage and regulate innovation is scoffed at and ignored.
The revolution is occurring around the world.
It is occurring in the private sector, not the public sector. [FACT calls bullshit!]
It is occurring despite wrongheaded attempts by governments to micromanage markets through disastrous industrial policy.
And it is driven by the Internet, the single greatest catalyst in history for individual liberty and free markets.
The true technology revolutionaries have little need for big government and never have.
Microsoft ignored the government for years and changed the world by leading the PC revolution.
Today, companies like Apple — which has created several completely new markets out of whole cloth (iPhone, iPad, iTunes, and iPod) — are changing the world again, successfully adopting visionary new revenue models for movies, songs and games, and launching an economy responsible for creating almost half a million jobs in the United States since the iPhone was introduced.
All in less than 5 years, and all without government permission, partnerships, subsidies, or regulations!
Technology revolutionaries succeeded not because of some collectivist vision that seeks to regulate “fairness”, “neutrality”, “privacy” or competition” through coercive state actions or that views the Internet and technology as a vast commons that must be freely available to all, but rather because of the same belief as America’s Founders who understood that private property is the foundation of prosperity and freedom itself. [FACT finds this ‘private property’ a red herring argument to no point.]
Technology revolutionaries succeed because of the decentralized nature of the Internet, which defies government control.
As a consequence, decentralization has unlocked individual self-empowerment, entrepreneurialism, creativity, innovation and the creation of new markets in ways never before imagined in human history.
But, ironically, just as decentralization has unleashed the potential for free markets and individual freedom on a global scale, collectivist special interests and governments worldwide are now tirelessly pushing for more centralized control of the Internet and technology.
Here at home they are aided and abetted both by an Administration that wholeheartedly believes in the wisdom of government to manage markets and some in the technology industry that cynically use the cudgel of government control and regulation to hamstring competitors, the Apple’s and Microsoft’s of tomorrow.
Internet collectivism takes many forms, all of them pernicious.
Among the most insidious are government attempts to control and regulate competition, infrastructure, privacy and intellectual property. According to them;
Successful companies in brand new frontier industries that didn’t even exist as recently as five years ago should be penalized and intimidated with antitrust actions in the name of “fairness” and “competition.
Privately owned broadband high-speed infrastructure must be subject to collective rule via public ownership and government regulations that require “sharing” with other competitors.
Internet infrastructure must be treated as a commons subject to centralized government control through a variety of foolish “public interest” and “fairness” regulations.
Wireless, the lifeblood of the mobile Internet revolution, must be micromanaged as a government-controlled commons, with limited exclusive property rights.
Private property rights on the Internet should exist in limited fashion or not at all, and what is considered to be in the public domain should be greatly expanded.
Private sector data collection practices must be scrutinized and tightly regulated in the name of “protecting consumers”, at the same time as government’s warrantless surveillance and collection of private citizens’ Internet data has dramatically increased.
Internet collectivists are clever.
They are masters at hijacking the language of freedom and liberty to disingenuously push for more centralized control.
“Openness” means government control of privately owned infrastructure.
“Net neutrality” means government acting as arbiter and enforcer of what it deems to be “neutral”.
“Internet freedom” means the destruction of property rights.
“Competition” means managed competition, with the government acting as judge and jury on what constitutes competition and what does not.
Our “right to privacy” only applies to the data collection activities of the private sector, rarely to government.
The eminent economist Ludwig von Mises wrote that when government seeks to solve one problem, it creates two more.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the realm of Internet collectivists and the centralized control of the Internet they seek.
The body of incremental communications law and regulation that has emerged since the days of Alexander Graham Bell are entirely unsuited to the dynamic and ever-changing Internet for one simple reason:
Technology is evolving faster than government’s ability to regulate it.
Ronald Reagan once said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from
extinction.” But in the Internet era, true Internet freedom can be lost in far less than one generation.
Around the world, the real threat to Internet freedom comes not from bad people or
inefficient markets — we can and will always route around them — but from
governments’ foolish attempts to manage and control innovation.
And it is not just the tyrannies we must fear. The road away from freedom is paved with good intentions.
Today, the road to tyranny is being paved by a collectivist-Industrial complex — a dangerous brew of wealthy, international NGO’s, progressive do-gooders, corporate cronies and sympathetic political elites.
Their goals are clear: The collectivist-industrial complex seeks to undermine free markets and property rights, replacing them with “benevolent” government control and a vision of “free” that quickly evolves from “free speech” to “free stuff.”
We know where this path leads. As Thomas Jefferson said, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.”
A benevolent monopoly for “the public interest” is nothing more than a means for the old guard to reassert their power. The role of the government on the Internet is to protect us from force and fraud, not to decide our interests.
But while the Internet has produced a revolution, it has not, in fact, “changed everything”.
July 9, 2012
Global Voices: June 14, 2012
Throughout this week’s edition we highlight examples of government intervention to limit free speech online, ostensibly “for the greater good”. In Kuwait, a Shi’ite man has been sentenced to prison for ten years for allegedly insulting the Prophet Mohammad and Sunni Muslims via Twitter. Pleading innocent, Hamad Al-Naqi said the posts were written by someone who had hacked his Twitter account.
Kuwait Human Rights Watch reported that the conviction was based on Article 15 of Kuwait’s National Security Law, which punishes citizens for “intentionally broadcasting news, statements, or false or malicious rumors… that harm the national interests of the state”. The court also found Al-Naqi guilty of violating Article 111 of the Kuwaiti Penal Code, which bans mocking religion.
Human rights and free speech groups believe Al-Naqi’s conviction represents a shift toward a more restricted civil society in Kuwait, highlighting political tensions between the country’s opposition Islamists and moderates. In May nearly all members of Parliament endorsed a bill to issue the death penalty for insulting the Prophet Mohammad for Muslims, with non-Muslims facing a lower ten-year prison sentence. Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah rejected the bill on June 6, but the veto could be overruled by a two-thirds majority vote by Kuwait’s Parliament and Cabinet Ministers. For more information on the situation in Kuwait and other challenges netizens in the country are facing, read Mona Kareem’s article on Global Voices Advocacy.
In another example of the trend highlighted above, the Malaysian Minister of Information, Communications and Culture Dr. Rais Yatim has declared his support for regulating content online. Rais expressed agreement with former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir, who has called for regulations to block “filth” and punish those who corrupt the minds of others online.
China has proposed changes to expand the scope of Internet law to include forums, blogs, and microblogs. Additionally, Reuters reports that the changes will also require microblog operators to obtain an administrative license to run a service.
According to IT News Africa, South Sudan has been invited to connect to Kenya’s broadband.
Speaking at the Personal Democracy Forum on 11 June, United States (US) Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and House Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) proposed the idea of a Digital Bill of Rights to be enshrined in the US Constitution. A draft version of the bill is available for comment on Rep. Issa’s personal site KeepTheWebOpen.com.
Protests over a South African ‘secrecy bill’ have led the ruling African National Congress to offer amendments to the legislation to include protection for government whistleblowers and journalists if the information uncovers criminal activity. However, the nation’s State Security Agency opposes the amendments to the proposed legislation, which could mandate up to 25 years in prison for those found in the possession of classified government documents, without any defense of acting in the public interest.
The Guardian reported four journalists were killed during the month of May in Pakistan, where reporters lack protection from violence and intimidation by armed groups or government officials. The Balochistan Union of Journalists recently held protests to call on their government to provide protection to media persons and arrest the killers of a local Balochi reporter who was murdered a few days ago.
The Azerbaijani Supreme Court released activist Bakhtiar Hajiyev on parole, who has been imprisoned since March 2011 after his arrest for promoting peaceful demonstrations via social media. The court sentenced Hajiyev in May 2011 for evading required military service and sentenced him to prison for two years.
In a speech to the International Conference on Cyber Conflict, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves declared that the Internet has forced countries with different political realities into “almost inevitable conflict” and a “cold peace”. At stake, he argued, is the “liberal-democratic model of an open society, and of market economies that are transparent and rule-bound”.
As we reported in last week’s edition, a new document leak website, WCIT Leaks, was recently launched to increase transparency in the lead-up to the 12th World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT), organized by the International Telecommunications Union. Some of the leaked documents reveal proposals that do not seek to change the role of the multi-stakeholder Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), but which could have a dramatic on other areas of Internet governance including Internet routing. One proposal by European network operators would include a global Internet tax targeting the largest web content providers that could limit their ability to reach users in developing nations.
For more information and analysis see the Center for Democracy and Technology’s ITU resource page, the Internet Society’s information page and news page, and a three part “Threat Analysis of WCIT” by Milton Mueller at Syracuse University (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).
The African Internet Governance Forum will be held in Cairo in October.
Tunisia signed an agreement with the ITU to launch the Arab region’s first open source software support center.
The non-profit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will announce the applicants of more than 300 new domain names on Wednesday, such as .group and .college, culminating the non-profit’s six year process to create new Internet real estate. An appeals process for companies to control a domain name could follow the announcement.
Tunisian journalist Ramzi Bettibi suspended his hunger strike to promote transparency in the trial of ousted leader Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali after the Constituent Assembly pledged to take up his cause. Bettibi began his strike on May 28, in response to officials confiscating his cameras during filming of Ben-Ali’s trial. An initiative from the Tunisian presidency returned Bettibi’s cameras a few days after he and several other activists began refusing food.
While switching planes in the United States en route to Canada last week, CryptoCat developer Nadim Kobeissi tweeted he was detained by US authorities and questioned about the encryption used in his open source private chat room application.
Members of the hacktivist group Anonymous have targeted Indian web censorship, staging protests in 16 cities around the country. While organizers anticipated more than 2,000 people would participate in a protest in Mumbai against the government’s ban on the websites Vimeo and Pirate Bay, no more than 100 supporters and media showed up. Reasons suggested by Tech2 include protester apathy, lack of leadership and government restriction of the demonstration space. Anonymous also claimed responsibility for taking down the website of an Indian telecom operator as part of its online censorship protest called “Operation India”.
Sovereigns of cyberspace
Facebook has launched an app center for the distribution of third-party applications for the social network. Like the Apple iTunes store, Facebook will take a 30 percent cut of sales. Facebook increased its lead as the world’s most popular social network, recently exceeding Orkut as the most popular social network in Brazil.
Major television networks in the US will apply content maturity ratings systems to full-length shows broadcast online.
Elected officials in Australia are raising concerns over Australia’s participation in negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed free trade agreement between the US and eight other nations which could offer priorities to foreign investors. US Senators have also raised concerns about the relative secrecy of the negotiations around the deal.
The United States Supreme Court will soon examine a case that will determine whether a person can re-sell their mobile device or computer without having to obtain permission from dozens of “copyright holders”.
Poor security for professional social network LinkedIn led to the theft of six million customer passwords by hackers.
The Stuxnet virus and the Flame malware were created by the same developers, announced Russian tech security firm Kapersky Labs on Monday. Unnamed officials from the United States and Israel recently confirmed their nations created the Stuxnet virus to sabotage Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Publications and studies
• Samuel A. Greene, Center for the Study of New Media & Society: Twitter and the Russian Street: Memes, Networks & Mobilization
• Peter Swire, Ohio State University: From Real-Time Intercepts to Stored Records: Why Encryption Drives the Government to Seek Access to the Cloud
• Ann Nelson, Center for International Media Assistance: The Medium Versus the Message: US Government Funding for Media in an Age of Disruption
• Cory Doctorow, Technology Review: “The Curious Case of Internet Privacy”
For upcoming events related to the future of citizen rights in the digital age, see the Global Voices Events Calendar.
July 9, 2012
Aftermath of The Pirate Bay Trial: Peter Sunde’s Plea – In His Own Words
Falkvinge on Infopolicy: July 6, 2012
Some probably see Sweden as a country where proper due process of law prevails, or at least exists. Others would very much like to see Sweden as such a country. One thing that this country has shown is, that when the interests of its establishment are threatened, all the branches of government fuse into one and cut any corners needed to neutralize the threat to its establishment, rules and rights be damned.
On April 17, 2009, a verdict was handed down that led the world to blank stares of disbelief, then furious anger. The two operators of The Pirate Bay, its media spokesperson, and a fourth unrelated person were sentenced to one year in jail each and damages that, by now, well exceed 10 million euros. This was essentially a declaration of war against an entire generation. The case was appealed and lost, and the Supreme Court denied to hear the case, to everybody’s surprise except the establishment’s.
A few days ago, Peter “Brokep” Sunde – the former media spokesperson of The Pirate Bay – sent a formal plea for pardon to the Swedish Administration. This is a procedure where you can get a judicial sentencing undone by the political administration in exceptional circumstances, as part of checks and balances between the branches of government. It is practically never granted, but Peter saw it as a way to get his version into permanent governmental records – and to get a written and signed statement that no error had been committed in these circumstances. As Peter wrote in Swedish: this was not written with the intention to take it into HTML format, but any claims and facts in the text can easily be verified in Swedish-language media by any reporter wanting to do so. I have taken the liberty to insert a few references – some for reference, some for the Swedish context.
This is a long text, but worth reading. It was only as I translated it from Swedish, forcing me to really contemplate its meaning in detail, as the full egregiousness of it all hit me.
I’d like to tell a story from my life, a story that has come to have great importance – not just to me, but to the global and emerging Internet. I happened to get a role in the eye of the storm. For your consideration of the submitted plea, I feel that this letter is needed: an insight into what has gone wrong, and why you need to fix this. You see, indirectly, I do not ask pardon for myself. I ask pardon for a judicial system that has been steamrolled over by lobbyism and ignorance. But ultimately, I ask pardon for our future culture and communication. My case has significant impact on these.
This is a long story, so let’s get started right away.
A little over six years ago, something odd happened in Swedish history. The Police conducted a raid at twelve locations in Sweden. 65 police stormed in at these locations and searched for something and anything that could be used as evidence against a search engine on the Internet.
Nothing like this had every happened before in Sweden, and will quite likely never happen again. The days that followed produced tens of thousands of articles around the whole world. Thousands of people, mostly young adults, took to the streets all over the nation and protested. They protested that their cultural life had been violated.
I attended one of these protests, having a political interest and being the media spokesperson for the search engine in question. A search engine helping people all over the world to get in touch with each other to exchange information. A search engine so appreciated, that almost every day, a mail arrived from somebody telling the story of how it changed their life. Pictures of tattoos with its logo proudly inked onto someone’s body. Acclaims to the Swedish web service that changed people’s lives. The protests boiled down to just this: people felt steamrolled over, all across the world. I remember standing in the Mynttorget square on an early morning in the beginning of June, 2006, watching representatives from all parties in Parliament screaming out their fury over what had recently been uncovered: the United States had threatened little Sweden with trade sanctions if the web service wasn’t shut down.
The Swedish Public Television’s newscast Rapport had told the embarrassing story. Mighty Hollywood demanded that the White House would force Sweden to do something about the cultural exchange going on outside of Hollywood’s control. The Swedish Minister of Justice at the time, Thomas Bodström, was called into a meeting in the White House and was informed of the consequences of non-compliance: trade sanctions from the United States against Sweden within the context of the WTO. Sweden could become a second Cuba.
A few months prior, a Swedish prosecutor had arrived at the conclusion that this service could not be sentenced for any crime in Sweden. He sent a memo explaining this to his superiors. After a meeting between representatives from the Justice Department and Sven-Erik Alhem, the over-prosecutor at the time, the prosecutor in question reconsiders. A quick raid was required, with full force. So full a force, in fact, that when the raid is actually conducted, the police have no idea what to grab. They seize hundreds of computers, in several cities, but also loudspeakers, cables, and the like. They don’t know the size of the things they’re supposed to be looking for, and decide – during the raid in session – to rent trucks from local gas stations to ship off all the seized goods. In short, it is stressful, unplanned, and ill considered. So ill considered that the police even missed several locations where the target of the raid had ongoing activities.
Thomas Bodström promised to come clear with what had happened. And yet, over 700 mails between him and the United States regarding this matter were (and remain) classified as secrets of the State. We still haven’t seen them. In the aftermath of the political scandal that was uncovered, Swedish national records were set in charges filed with the Constitutional Committee (Konstitutionsutskottet), Parliamentary Ombudsman (JO) and Chancellor of Justice (Justitiekanslern). The newly-founded Swedish Pirate Party became one of Sweden’s largest in a matter of days. A few weeks later, an election was held. None of the young wanted to vote for the ruling Social Democrats any longer, knowing that the Social Democrats had sold out their interests to rich lobby organizations in the United States. The Social Democrats lost power, partly because of this scandal.
Only two days after the raid, The Pirate Bay was back online. It’s an easy service to copy, and with no advanced functionality. That was one of the major features with the underlying technology, being smart and easily maintained to that level. It was so easy to maintain, nobody had practically touched it for a year at the time of the raid.
The attention around The Pirate Bay only grew after this. It might have been a large service before, but it was suddenly one of the world’s 100 largest services. Global media called non-stop.
My involvement in The Pirate Bay had been one, and one only: media spokesperson. Suddenly, images of my face were being printed onto front pages of all the world’s newspapers. I was invited daily to television and radio to discuss the political issues surrounding file sharing. Debates raged for days on end, and I hardly found any time to do my day job, thinking this was such an important issue. I grew more and more active in the political aspect of the topic after the raid, and indirectly, I became a representative of those who say that file sharing is something positive for society as a whole.
The raid was harsh and forceful. As mentioned earlier, it took place at twelve locations in Sweden. Myself, I lived in Oslo, Norway during this time, seeing myself as very peripheral in this context. My acquaintances from The Pirate Bay had been informed of charges pressed against them, but nothing more happened for a very long time. After about two and a half years, I got a letter. At this time, I had moved to Sweden, and I was being called as a witness, being called to give my deposition to the Police in a few weeks’ time.
About 30 people were called as witnesses. Some were known to me, some I’d never heard of. Time passed and I was supposed to go to the police station to give a deposition. Just the day before, the lead interrogator Jim Keyzer (who was also responsible for the entire investigation) calls me and tells me I’ll be charged with a crime on arrival. He tells me that this being the case, I have the right to have an attorney present. He doesn’t stop there, but also gives me the tip of picking “just about the first lawyer you can find, as we’re in a hurry to get this over with”. He adds that I should “skip picking a hotshot lawyer from Stockholm” so his work wouldn’t be further delayed. All of a sudden, the investigation is in a world of rush to get concluded.
Now, I’m a reasonably intelligent person. Obviously, I see that something is odd when a policeman asks me to pick a bad lawyer. Therefore, I immediately called the first good lawyer I knew, Peter Althin. Althin took the case immediately, and called the policeman in question. The policeman got upset and enraged as he had already planned his trip to the city of Malmö, where I would be heard, and found it enraging that he had to schedule a second trip to the city.
A few weeks later, Jim Keyzer came to Malmö to question me. My lawyer was with me, and both he and I felt that something was very odd. My lawyer told me that in his long career with many high-profile cases, he had never seen such a rude and stressed-out interrogator. He found it very odd indeed. Myself, I thought it felt like a scene from a bad movie, when Keyzer screamed at me that I was being childish in responding “no comment” (as I didn’t want to say anything that might affect my friends). In a few locations in the transcription of the recorded hearing, the transcription just reads “unhearable”. That’s when Keyzer is outraged and yelling so loudly that the microphone is unable to record the sound.
It may appear odd that I’m placing such emphasis on Keyzer here, but there’s a point to it. It’s the handling of this case. Sweden has a reputation of being a country with high morals, sans corruption and with common sense guiding its justice. In my case, this has been shoved aside. Jim Keyzer is one of many examples of this.
One week after the filing of the concluded investigation, one of my acquaintances noticed that Jim Keyzer had changed his “network” on Facebook. He was no longer part of “Police Authority in Stockholm”, but was now part of the “Warner Brothers” network. Warner Brothers is one of the corporations behind the charges against The Pirate Bay. I got very upset and called Jim Keyzer to ask him what was going on, and was informed that he had changed jobs and was working for Warner now; Warner and NBC Universal, another corporation behind the charges (not to mention the political pressure). Warner and Universal are also part in the Anti-Pirate Bureau (Antipiratbyrån), an organization which was one of the formal plaintiffs during the trial. Keyzer’s new role was anti-pirate manager for these organizations. He had started his new job the day before the investigation was formally concluded.
Jim Keyzer’s first assignment for his new employer was to locate a co-defendant, Gottfrid Svartholm. Gottfrid is a nomadic young man who frequently lives with friends. Since Keyzer had been able to use police resources to get information on Gottfrid’s whereabouts, he went to that location to serve the civil lawsuit part of the criminal case that he, himself, had investigated for upwards of three years. Keyzer did run into Gottfrid by chance, and did not disclose his change of employers.
Using my rather far-reaching network, I looked closer into at what time, exactly, that Keyzer signed on with his new employer. It turned out that his new employer had posted the job opening publicly, and in a few meetings about the ongoing investigation, Keyzer had been informed that he may be a good fit for the new position. After some more digging, I located a person who had applied for the same job. He could tell me the exact date when he was informed that the position had been filled by another applicant: eight days before I was upgraded from “witness” to “defendant” in the case. And seven days before Keyzer started calling and telling me what a rush it was to hear all witnesses. Accordingly, the only time I met with a policeman during the entire time of the investigation was with the very policeman who had already got a well-paying job with my adversary in the case. A policeman going from almost no speed at all, to having to close the investigation in one day. In a hearing that my lawyer perceived as one of the oddest in his long career.
At the time of that hearing, I was also the most hated person in the power corridors of Hollywood. I was the one individual most important to silence, being the media spokesperson for their nemesis. Young people all over the world listened to me as I told them of the fantastic opportunity we have for a free and open, participatory culture, as long as we don’t have to be locked up by these corporations. I spoke with all kinds of people – from teachers and students, to presidents of some of the world’s largest countries – about the opportunities and the threats on the table. The threats were mostly the adversaries in my case.
As the case came up in a Swedish District Court, it was assigned to a normal department by random, as is proper. However, the manager of Department 5 (the department of IPR) didn’t think this was a criminal case, but an IPR case. Therefore, the case was moved to Department 5, at the request of the department who wanted the case. It would later turn out that, as lots were being drawn to allocate a judge to the case at random, there was only one to choose from: Tomas Norström, the head of Department 5, who had requested the case would go to his department. In short, a Swedish judge decided that he, himself, should be trying a specific case, by abusing the processes of the District Court.
Tomas Norström is very interested in copyright cases. So interested, in fact, that he also happened to be a member in the Swedish Association for Copyright, and was a board member of the Swedish Association For Industrial Legal Protection, SFIR. Two organizations that take a very clear stance on copyright issues. The associations are daughter associations of ALAI and AIPPI, two international organizations whose statutes state their goal to strengthen the interests of copyright holders. The chairpeople for these international organizations frequently make statements condemning all kinds of copyright violations, and work for harsher punishment for violations.
Tomas Norström didn’t consider himself to be biased. Besides, he neglected to disclose his engagements since he regarded them as without consequence to the case. There was plenty of opportunity for him to consider his bias before the trial, as I personally had checked the layman judges and found that two of them were biased. When my lawyer officially communicated this, Norström published a press release where he said he had found one biased layman judge (without mentioning the complaint from us). He had found a composer who had been active in the record labels that were suing us. There was another layman judge who got the paycheck from these industries, who Norström did not consider biased.
The proceedings in the District Court were very strange. There was commotion just everywhere: TV crews from BBC, al-Jazeera, Swedish Public TV, Norwegian Public TV, and more. For several days, it was like the whole world was watching when Sweden were prosecuting a few people for aiding and abetting a crime with no principal perpetrator. Everywhere, people shook their heads. In the large newspapers, there were polls whether people thought there should be a conviction – 99.8% out of over 50,000 said “no” (and there was a margin of error of 0.2%, according to the statisticians of the paper, so possibly 100%).
During the court proceedings, I noticed sleeping laymen judges. We were held to sit watching screen captures, screendumps that immediately showed to my technical mindset that files had not been downloaded via The Pirate Bay at all. As we pointed out that the screendumps used as evidence proved conclusively that The Pirate Bay had not been available when they tried to download something, the prosecutor changed the formal charge to another title, resembling “aiding and abetting an assist of a theoretically possible crime”. None of the thusly-guessed principal crimes could even be traced to being under Swedish jurisdiction – or Norwegian, for that matter, where I had been living during the events I was on trial for. Still, we were convicted.
We were convicted to a collective sentence. Everybody was sentenced to one year in prison and 30 million SEK in damages, record-setting damages in Sweden. It surfaced that the court had been biased, but despite that, it was declared that Norström had made no formal error of proceedings. Instead, we had to appeal to the Appeals Court.
Looking at the verdict from the District Court, I couldn’t really understand why I had been convicted. There were no specific charges against me. There were no periods of time where I had been involved. There was not even a crime proven to have been committed – and yet, I was convicted of aiding and abetting a crime that had not been proven to have taken place. Because of substandard evidence, the burden had been turned around – I knew things that could have been useful for The Pirate Bay, and therefore, the reasoning went, these things had happened and I had performed them. Despite the fact that all people who had been heard stated that everything programmed or developed on The Pirate Bay had happened before the events for which I were on trial, and that the skills I possessed that might had been useful, was still dwarfed by the two founders of The Pirate Bay. Skills that, in the end, weren’t even needed as everything had been untouched.
In the Appeals Court, the story was similar. It wasn’t one judge with a background in the Swedish Association for Copyright, but two. There were laymen judges that worked for Spotify – a competitor of The Pirate Bay – which was also owned in large part by the record labels which were our adversary. After a painfully long playback of the recorded testimonies from the District Court (where even the laymen judges in the Appeals Court fell asleep a couple of times), we were still convicted. I was personally convicted to eight months in prison and 46 million SEK in damages. This sum, having collected interest, is closer to 100 million SEK today (11 million euros).
As I read the Appeal Court’s verdict of why I should be personally responsible, I cannot find anything but apathy and helplessness. According to the Appeals Court, I have done three things that give me criminal liablility. I’d like to go through these with you.
Among other things, I’m supposed to have installed a computer that operated as a so-called load balancer – a computer that makes it possible to distribute the workload of big web services among different computers. It reads clear as day in the Appeals Court verdict that I’m responsible for configuring this computer. Such a computer did indeed exist in one of the racks that The Pirate Bay was located in. On the other hand, it wasn’t connected with a single wire or cable in any way. Some computers have been investigated at the National Forensic Laboratory (Statens Kriminaltekniska Laboratorium). Some computers have been combed for details. In some cases, the prosecutor has called owners of computers to ask them if they want to press charges of electronic trespassing against Gottfrid Svartholm, as they found that he has had access to computers. Computers he has been maintaining for clients. The computer I’m supposed to have been responsible for isn’t mentioned with a single line of text, except in the seizing protocol from the raid. I cannot find the configuration I’ve been convicted of creating. The configuration I have created, beyond reasonable doubt, according to the Swedish Appeals Court. The configuration I can say with 100% certainty would have proven that this computer had never been used for The Pirate Bay. The owner had placed it in the rack by themselves just a few weeks prior to the raid.
During the Appeals Court proceedings, prosecutor Håkan Roswall confirmed my story of this, that this machine had never been used in the operations of The Pirate Bay. Therefore, my lawyer put no energy into bringing it up in his final statement. And yet, Roswall said after this, that I had been responsible for it. And in the end, I was convicted because of it. There is not a shred of evidence anywhere that this computer has been in use, not for anything at all. I usually say that I feel like a Finn convicted of a gun murder, because there was a knife nearby, and “us Finns are known for using knives”. Since I “confessed” to knowing what a load balancer is, I was convicted for such a computer having been at the site, despite not being operational. And despite my co-defendants are being among the foremost in the world of building such solutions, working with it daily. And despite the fact it would have been dead easy for Jim Keyzer to bring out the configuration, especially when I am about to be accused for it.
Point two I was convicted for is that I’m supposed to have built a system for genres on The Pirate Bay. I’m supposed to have been responsible for improving functionality of the service by somehow injecting genres. Whatever this would mean. In the verdict, it says I was responsible for “categorization”. When something is uploaded to The Pirate Bay, the uploader chooses themselves what category they want to put the material in. After that, it’s there. The category system has existed since before the events on trial – I’d even dare say it’s been the same system since The Pirate Bay started. Besides, genres is something completely different than categories, it’s sub-categories. One category might be Movies, Music, or Games. A genre might be Action, Sport, or Hiphop. There’s a significant difference in meaning. But in short, there hasn’t been a change of categories on The Pirate Bay since 2004. There hasn’t even been a change to the categories on The Pirate Bay today. And genres have never even existed, and yet, I have been convicted for creating them. The reason for my conviction that I mentioned “genres on the bay” in passing in a mail, a third person asked who’s responsible for search, and was replied “I think Peter”. At the same time, I was involved in building a new service, The Video Bay, a service for streaming video which would have gone online if it hadn’t been for the big raid. Despite this, the Swedish Court thinks that I’m guilty to categorization on The Pirate Bay, proven so beyond reasonable doubt. Technical evidence doesn’t exist here, either. This would have been dead easy to produce, too, and this was also a task in Jim Keyzer’s area of responsibility.
Point three is an action I admitted to performing. But I don’t consider it being a crime. I’m convicted of having sent an invoice for advertising on The Pirate Bay once in April 2006 (almost a year after the events on trial started). The back story was as simple as a quarrel between those who paid for advertising and the company managing the advertising on The Pirate Bay, and therefore, the former demanded to be invoiced from a Swedish company. As I was well-liked by all parties, the CEO of this Swedish (publicly traded) company asked me to send the invoice from my Swedish company. I did, and then I paid an invoice from the company that they themselves refused to pay directly. There were personal quarrels behind it all, and it was a way to come to an end of this quarrel. I didn’t make a cent from it and the money wasn’t even in my account for a full day.
This is something that an ordinary collections agency could have done, without getting prosecuted or convicted for it. Jim Keyzer has heard the people selling the advertising, who collected half of the money made on The Pirate Bay, and didn’t once think of prosecuting them for making money off of financing this service. The prosecutor was of the exact same mindset. But push coming to shove, I am completely sure there is nothing illegal in what I did.
In the eagerness to make sure of convicting The Pirate Bay, I was pulled along, evidence or no evidence. Reading the verdict, it is obvious that the starting point has been that I must be convicted, and then trying to find something to convict me for. The fact that the policeman who worked for my adversary in my case (as well as my political adversary) has been able to investigate all computers in detail, and chosen to not investigate those concerning my conviction, leads me to the obvious viewpoint that I wasn’t given a fair chance. It’s a farce that there are biased judges able to pick and choose whom to convict. These people in the Swedish judicial system have been wielding the power that the public has entrusted in them, and them have done it in a manner that I hope they feel shame for the rest of their lives. They are textbook corrupt and criminal.
Instead, I would like to end my long letter with my reflections on it all. I know that I’m at a point where I have less than a tenth of a percent’s chance of escaping punishment. Not having to go to jail for crimes I didn’t commit. Crimes that weren’t even committed in the first place. Crimes that surely aren’t even crimes to begin with, if they had been committed, and if they had been committed, hadn’t been so by me. It’s a bizarre situation with my distance to any real criminal liability. Still, I must spend a couple of months locked up in a Class 2 facility since there is said to be a risk that I would repeat these crimes, crimes that haven’t been committed, almost seven years ago. Crimes that, if they are to be committed, require access to high-speed net connectivity, physical machines, server halls and the like. Crimes that don’t need to be committed, since that kind of technology isn’t used any longer. And once I’m out of jail, where I’m certainly going to become increasingly bitter over the situation, I have a debt of 100 million SEK (11 million euros). Money in fantasy numbers, supposed to “compensate” for aiding and abetting the assistance of a theoretically possible crime I’m supposed to have done by doing things that didn’t happen. An economic debt to some of the world’s richest corporations. A debt that practically means I don’t have a future in Sweden as a country, if I want to live off of anything other than breadcrumbs or the goodwill of my friends. This debt is equivalent to exile, to deportation. I will need to become an economic refugee from Sweden.
This bizarre situation is one that authorities in Sweden close their eyes to. It is an insult to everything the judicial system is supposed to represent. It is a shame for the entire population. A population that doesn’t even share the opinions behind the laws I’m convicted of breaking. And it’s these things that I ask that all of us be pardoned from. The lost faith in the justice system with all the bias, all the obvious corruption, the unconstitutional orders across branches of government (ministerstyre) that was never investigated, all the ugly tactics that have been used to satisfy a trading partner high on its own power. Sweden’s judicial system has sold out individuals. That is not supposed to happen in a democracy.
Grant the people of Sweden pardon from this corruption.
 The threat from the United States of trade sanctions has since been well documented.
 Peter Althin is considered one of Sweden’s best defense lawyers.
 The association has since changed its name to The Swedish Association for Protection of Intellectual Property, sfir.se.
 Swedish district and appeals courts have a mix of law-schooled judges and random layman judges. It is supposed to create a system of checks and balances similar to the United States’ jury system. In the district court, there is but one law-schooled judge in a case.
 A Class 2 facility is a medium-security prison.
July 9, 2012
Japanese Teen Arrested for Wii-Modding Software
Wired: July 3, 2012
A Nintendo Wii user modifies the gaming hardware. [Ray Dehler/Flickr]
Japanese police have arrested a 19-year-old Kyoto college student for allegedly distributing software online that illegally circumvented the copy protection on Nintendo Wii game consoles, the Saitama Prefectural Police said on Tuesday. The software enabled users to run unauthorized software on the Wii as well as play games copied to an USB-attached hard drive.
The police force’s Cyber Crime Unit first became aware of the site in December. Police say the software was uploaded onto the suspect’s website on Feb. 28 and was downloaded about 6,500 times over the subsequent three months. Prior to that, the suspect’s blog contained information on how to physically modify a Wii console to play unauthorized software.
The student said to police that “my website was making money, so I kept it running,” reported the Asahi Shimbun. That money, approximately 200,000 yen ($2,500) over the last 18 months, came from online advertisements and not from selling the software or modding consoles, he said.
The suspect is charged with violating the Unfair Competition Prevention Act, which was amended in 2011 to attach criminal penalties to “the act of providing devices to circumvent technological restriction measures.”
Earlier this year, two Japanese men were arrested under the new law in separate cases for modding a Nintendo Wii and selling so-called “majikon” blank game cards for Nintendo DS. In the case of the college student, no money or physical goods changed hands, nor were any services provided, making his arrest a first in Japan according to police.
The Saitama Prefectural Police do not believe the suspect possesses the necessary programming or technical know-how to create the software he is accused of distributing, so the police are attempting to determine the creator of the program.
In advance of Independence Day, a host of groups and individuals have launched the Declaration of Internet Freedom, fighting for a free and open Internet.
CNET News: July 2, 2012
SIGN THE PETITION!:
Civil society: http://www.internetdeclaration.org/freedom
Do you believe the Internet needs protection against censorship and other threats? If so, then you may want to join in on the new Declaration of Internet Freedom.
Launched by a large coalition of privacy groups, Web sites, and individuals, the Declaration of Internet Freedom is the start of a process striving to keep the Internet free and open. The organizations and people who kicked off this process are looking for other Internet users to discuss the ideas, share their own thoughts, and sign the declaration.
“We’ve seen how the Internet has been under attack from various directions, and we recognize that it’s time to make that stop,” said TechDirt, one of the Web sites involved in the new movement. “The Internet is an incredible platform that we want to grow and to thrive, and thus, a very large coalition got together to produce the following document as a starting point, hoping to kick off a much larger discussion which we hope you’ll join in.”
At this point, the Declaration of Internet Freedom advocates five basic principles:
- Expression: Don’t censor the Internet.
- Access: Promote universal access to fast and affordable networks.
- Openness: Keep the Internet an open network where everyone is free to connect, communicate, write, read, watch, speak, listen, learn, create, and innovate.
- Innovation: Protect the freedom to innovate and create without permission. Don’t block new technologies, and don’t punish innovators for their users’ actions.
- Privacy: Protect privacy and defend everyone’s ability to control how their data and devices are used.
For now, the declaration and its principles are still in the discussion stage, inviting people to debate the issues and offer their own opinions.
But the groups behind this cause are clearly hoping the power of Internet users and Web sites can have an effect on Washington, especially in light of the defeat of the SOPA bill earlier this year.
July 3, 2012
TorrentFreak: June 30, 2012
Get it here: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/repress/
A webhost has come under pressure from Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN for providing a WordPress-based anti-censorship tool which unblocks, among other sites, The Pirate Bay. The Hollywood-funded group says that in the face of the host’s refusal to comply with the takedown, it is now considering filing a criminal complaint. A lawyer specializing in IT law has today described the threat as “baseless.”
Back in January we reported on the fruition of a new anti-censorship project.
The resulting ‘RePress’ tool was developed by webhosting company Greenhost and allows anyone with a WordPress blog to create a proxy for sites subjected to Internet censorship around the world.
The tool’s creators list many usage examples, such as unblocking Amnesty.org, Blogspot, Wikileaks, TorProject, plus the one that caught our eye – The Pirate Bay. But by adding Pirate Bay unblocking functionality to their tool, Greenhost have now attracted the attention of Hollywood via their very own Dutch proxy – anti-piracy outfit BREIN.
The All4xs site where RePress is hosted is reporting that BREIN has ordered them to take down the RePress plugin on the basis that it’s a dedicated Pirate Bay unblocking tool. BREIN believes that since it has won several cases recently against sites offering Pirate Bay proxies – not least against the Dutch Pirate Party – All4xs should take note and comply.
Greenhost, and by extension All4xs, see things rather differently. They say that RePress is very much a generic tool since it unblocks a range of sites and is not designed to specifically unlock The Pirate Bay. On that basis they have refused to comply with the takedown.
“This plugin allows people who live in dictatorships such as China or Iran to still access the open Internet. This is vital in a society that is increasingly dependent on digital resources,” wrote Green Host Director Sacha van Geffen in his response to BREIN.
“All4xs.net will stay online with all content intact.”
But according to the anti-piracy outfit, failure to comply with their demands could have serious repercussions, including the filing of a criminal – not civil – complaint against Greenhost. Arnoud Engelfriet, a lawyer specializing in Internet law at the ICTRecht law firm, told TorrentFreak that he believes the threat lacks credibility.
“The criminal complaint would be an allegation of criminal contribution to copyright infringement (secondary infringement). That’s a baseless accusation in my view,” he explained.
“The law explicitly protects hosting providers against criminal liability, as long as they comply with a takedown order from the court. BREIN admits that Greenhost is a hosting provider (‘intermediary’) because their claim for a takedown is based on a Copyright Law provision directed against intermediaries.”
However, according to Engelfriet there is an even more important issue at hand.
“The State’s Attorney (‘Openbaar Ministerie’) has a longstanding policy of not prosecuting copyright infringement unless it is extremely large-scale, threatens the public health or has connections with organized crime.
“A few years back a case against an Edonkey-index site was thrown out because the court said the prosecution had not demonstrated how they alleged infringement met the criteria of the policy,” Engelfreit concludes.