If you have read my blog since the beginning, you may have noticed that I used to write a lot about copyright issues and generally took a rather positive stance towards the different piracy-factions and supported them in spirit through their different tough times.
However, recently, this topic has become rather infected in Sweden. It seems as though the opinion of the general public has become somewhat radical by international standards, and a recent survey done by SIFO showed that roughly 50% of the Swedish population thinks that filesharing should be legalized (article in Swedish). L-E-G-A-L-I-Z-E-D!! Recent discussions in Swedish media show that in general, the Swedish public does not want to pay for any kind of entertainment; be it music, TV-shows, or movies. There is a kind of political movement going on now, headed by angry file sharers under the name Pirate Party who are actually going to participate in the government elections this coming Fall. Their official stance is that filesharing should be OK, because the entertainment industry’s monopoly and outdated business model does not work anymore. I see a lack of alternative distribution models presented by the modern Swedish pirates, and suggest that the motive is pure greed. “Why pay if I can get it for free?”
Moving to the discussion one sees in the USA and UK (among other countries), I see there is more moderate focus wihtin the filesharing dicussion. In general, the people fighting for rights of the consumer are generally doing just that, and nothing else. They want to fight DRM and other restrictions of use that the entertainment industry (and its allies) tend to attach to every digital product they sell nowadays. The anti-DRM discussions and protests can get heated of course, but overall they are a whole lot more sensible than the Swedish debate.
To sum up what I have seen from the two related, but oh so different, discussions: in the US, people are willing to pay for entertainment in digital form if the price is reasonable and fair use is possible after purchase; whereas in Sweden, entertainment in digital form is regarded as having little to no value at all, and should be given away for free.
The latest happening in the Swedish debate is the fact that it has surfaced that the US government and MPAA have lobbied the Swedish government to do something about the piracy and filesharing, otherwise Sweden would face sanctions from the WTO. Some Swedish politicians are outraged by this. They say it’s terrible that the Swedish government would act like puppets bending over for Hollywood. I say, stop crying for pete’s sake. The filesharing that is going on in Sweden is of course not 100% illegal, and some filesharing is even good in my opinion, in the sense that it opens up a path for lesser known artists to reach out to a larger public. But the fact remains, the majority of filesharing that is taking place through The Piratebay and other filesharing networks is of the illegal kind, “downloading because I don’t want to pay” kind. And if Sweden cannot curb this illegal activity on its own, then why should not the property right owners step up and try to do something about it? It’s OK for MPAA to take actions against China because there is a massive market for pirated DVDs, but it is not OK for MPAA to voice their opinions against Sweden’s rampant filesharing? Hypocrisy, I say.
I was once agreeing completely with the Swedish pirates’ case, but recently I have been sickened with the discussion. I am now taking a much mroe moderate stance in this discussion. I am for: no DRM and fair use rights for digital media; lower cost for digital media; less geographic restrictions on distribution of entertainment. I am against: legalized filesharing; the opinion that digital media has no value, and other moronic behavior.