Another reason to move to Europe

June 9, 2009

So, the Pirate Party has won at least one seat in the European Parliament, representing Sweden.  For those of you who have no idea, the folks who run the Pirate Bay file sharing site have a spin-off political party that got a rather small number of votes in the last election.  Since then, the Pirate Bay has been through the courts and convicted of something (aiding in copyright violation, or some such thing). Of course, the Pirate Bay obviously doesn’t even hide the fact that the do aid folks in violation of current copyright laws, although, to be fair, they host no content and do not provide any copyrighted material at all (they are an index to Torrents that are provided by other people).  The part that makes this really outrageous to their supporters is that it seems that the judge on the case has a conflict of interest, and the rather ludicrous claims of how much money is being lost as a direct result of the activities of the Pirate Bay.  It turns out that enough people were outraged by all of this that the Pirate Party received quite a few votes … enough, in fact, to trun them from a novelty into a real live sitting, participating,  political party.  In fact, among Swedes in their 20’s, they received about 20% of the vote.

No matter what you think about this, it is quite clear that the folks who want to protect copyright are playing this about as badly as is humanly possible.  By punishing the Pirate Bay in court, they have created a legitimate political party and created a world-wide news story that does not lo0k good (and will attract even more young people). In effect, they have created a movement that runs entirely against their cause.

There were far better options:

If the motion picture industry (for example) had the slightest bit of brain-power devoted to this they might have had a far more positive effect by convincing the Pirate Bay folks to hand over the site and have nothing to do with it in exchange for not being penalized for all of their “piracy”.  In fact, they might even have told them to keep on running Pirate Bay, but under certain conditions.  These conditions would be that the motion picture industry would provide nice, high-quality versions of all of the films found, to be offered for download at a reasonable price as an alternative to the often crappy handheld things to be found normally. The most important thing that the Pirate Bay has is visitors … bazillions of them … worth infinitely more than the fine that has been imposed on its founders, who shifted the site elsewhere where it hums along like nothing ever happened and still makes no money for the copyright holders. As a user of Torrent sites, I assure that if I could get a really nice copy of a hard to find film for a few bucks, I would pay … no problem … I would gladly pay.  There are millions like me, searching for millions of films.  

The money would roll in … I will not, however, go to HMV and spend 25 dollars on a 40-yr old film, so that I can own the phsyical media … that’s just plain stupid. (oh, and iTunes …the collection is nowhere near big enough for the back catalog, and the movies come along way too late in new releases).  Unfortunately, the motion picture industry is completely incapable of understanding that they could be making money on films that they are otherwise not making money on, and that the market is already there … fully formed … waiting to be offered product.  Instead, they try to shut down the market and force people to go back to HMV and buy a movie in a box, in a format that will be outdated next year.

Remarkably, they have also managed to create an entire social movement devoted to opposing them, and have now managed to create seats in the European parliament devoted to opposing them. Great strategy.



  1. There is a growing body of research (for music anyway) that suggests something called the ‘sampling effect’ – basically, a lot of people who find free music online look for songs, and then BUY albums.

    The copyright fascists and CRIA don’t want to talk about this research, but it’s legitimate and it’s out there.

  2. http://www.piratepartyofcanada.com/

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