Posts Tagged Sweden

Jun
23

A Tale of Sweden, Piratebay, DRM and Filesharing

Posted by on Friday, 23 June, 2006

CDs
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 Their official stance is that filesharing should be OK, because the entertainment industry’s monopoly and outdated business model does not work anymore.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.

May
31

Japan the fabulous

Posted by on Wednesday, 31 May, 2006

It has been a hectic few weeks with few updates, and I am truly sorry about that. I have had numerous ideas for posts, but lack of time has stopped me.

Now I am overseas on a business trip, it is the first time in two years that I am back in my “homeland” of Europe, and it has made me reflect on my situtation as a foreigner in Japan.

There are surely a lot of things about Japan that I absolutely despise and cannot understand; but there are so many more things that are so great they should not be underestimated. Just a simple thing as shopping on weekends. I know it differs from country to country in Europe, but I think Sweden is sort average when it comes to business hours. How on earth are you supposed to enjoy shopping on weekends (the only real time you have time, if you have a full time job) if stores open at noon and close at 4 PM? Further, I estimate 75% of all shops are fully closed on Sundays, and the ones that are open are open as short (or shorter) as on Saturdays.

This is never a problem in Japan, where most shops are always open from 10-11 AM to 8-9 PM everyday including weekends. Sure, stores are occasionally closed – but what is most common is that many department stores are closed on a regular weekday instead; and not necessarily once a week, but once a month or less. Fabulous. Truly fabulous.

Speaking of shopping. (Sounds like I love shopping… I don’t, but hey, sometimes you gotta do it, and it’s better to do it in a fun, relaxed way isn’t it) The amount and variety of products available in Japan is purely amazing. Speaking in European terms, I doubt there is a city in Europe, maybe except London, that has a greater market for consumer products. And I am not only talking about luxury goods or electronics (where Tokyo undoubtedly is #1), but also cheap shopping is fantastic. Where else are the cities filled with “100-yen stores” (where everything costs exactly 100 yen, or close to; i.e. roughly $.90) that has everything from napkins, cutlery, cups, frying pans, rakes, handbags, chips, noodles, sodas, etc. etc. etc. There is one big myth about Japan and that is that everything is expensive. It is utterly false. The living expenses as in rent etc. may be high, but otherwise you can live dirt cheap here. And it’s fabulous.

Apr
21

Previewing IKEA in Funabashi Japan

Posted by on Friday, 21 April, 2006

IKEA Funabashi
Last night was Pre-Opening night at the new IKEA which is set to open officially on Monday the 24th of April in Funabashi, slightly east of Tokyo. A select number of specially invited people (all IKEA employees were allowed to invite a few people each to this event) got the opportunity to browse through (and use) the store before the big crowds hit next week. I predict massive lines on opening day and it will probably continue to be crowded for at least two months. The store is located right next to Minami Funabashi station on the JR Keio/Musashino Line; so even for people going by train it’s very accessible (except that it’s a darn long walk at Tokyo station).

It was an interesting feeling to walk through IKEA last night; partly because it was near-empty, partly because it was in Japan! It felt like Sweden inside, but then there was just something different about it which is hard to put your finger on. All in all, the first IKEA here in Japan seems like a hit. It’s the world’s biggest IKEA as far as I’ve been told, with a huge restaurant with over 700 seats. Outside the main cash registers, they have a special Sweden store selling Swedish food and snacks!

We hit the restaurant first, to see if the quality of the food holds up against “Swedish” IKEA standards – which it did! The meatballs were excellent:
Yummie

Finally, a couple more pics I shot with my phone:

IKEA showroom
IKEA snakes!

Feb
24

Finally Olympic Gold for Japan – and Sweden (again)

Posted by on Friday, 24 February, 2006

GOLD

Shizuka Arakawa

Finally Japan got a medal in the Torino olympics! Shizuka Arakawa blew away the competition (Sasha Cohen, and Irina Slutskaya aomng others) to finish on top.

Oh and by the way, we Swedes are getting a bit spoiled with our own athletes. The Swedish women’s Curling team took the gold, beating Switzerland in a very even and exciting match (or so I hear).

Swedish Curling team

Jan
27

Booby-prize and Booby-maker in Japanese tournaments

Posted by on Friday, 27 January, 2006

After competing in the annual SCCJ (Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Japan) bowling competition yesterday, the organizers gave a so-called “Booby Prize” to the team which finished last. This sparked a discussion among us, because some people claimed that the Booby Prize should be given to the person/team second from last and not last.

I did some research and found that the Booby Prize in the Western world indeed is a prize given to the player/team who finished last in a competition whereas in Japan, the Booby Prize is given to the one who finished second from last and the last place will receive a more dubious honor called Booby Maker (i.e. the one who, by finishing last, made the one before him/her win the Booby Prize). The reasoning for this is that anyone can finish last – it requires no effort at all, and whereas the Booby Prize is usually just a joke prize in the Western world, here in Japan it is usually a very nice prize – sometimes it is only surpassed by the 1st prize in value! Thus, to make it hard to receive the Booby Prize, the definition changed to be the one who finished second from last.

Hope that cleared things up for anyone! (I know it did for me!)