The price of hunting pirates

What is the actual price of anti-piracy enforcement?

Last week, a raid on a server hall in Sweden shut down Pirate Bay, but mere hours later, over 10 clones of the site went live. Most of them only copied the content that was already there, but one owned by the piracy site Isohunt has actually had new content added. It is as if Pirate Bay never went down at all… except for one notable difference:

During the confusion, several fake sites were put up under the guise of being Pirate Bay clones, intending to scam visitors both to put malware on their computers and to lure them to pay for the services.

The only real result of the Rights Alliance (Rättighetsalliansen) crusade against piracy has been harm to the general Internet users in the form of malware, scams and the shutdown of all other sites that used the same servers as Pirate Bay.

At the same time, the Swedish High Court (HD) has set a base case by which future online piracy convictions may be based on. For making a single film available online without permission, a person persecuted in Sweden will be sentenced to pay just over £1,500.

To take that in perspective, the norm for assault with a deadly weapon is between £500 and £750.

Henrik Pontén, spokesperson and leader for the Rights Alliance, states that piracy has decreased the past decade and attributes this trend to the fact that legal options have become much better, but there is a certain lack in these services thanks to distribution laws.

As long as certain countries or services will be unable to provide certain shows, movies or songs, people in those regions will be finding ways to see or listen to these. If the country in question illegalise these methods, it makes these people pirates in the eyes of the law, just for wanting to watch the same show that their neighbour can watch.

A midway between the two has been streaming services. Their legal status is right now between legal and illegal, thanks to the fact that it is hard to prove that the copy stored on the website’s server is illegal and the fact that the movie isn’t really stored on the user’s computer and therefore the user isn’t committing piracy.

That does not stop organisations like the Rights Alliance, who have managed to get several countries to illegalise things that essentially will break the Internet. Do you remember the times when you could upload a video to YouTube and not have to worry about that coke can that was in the background for half a second in that shot, or the car driving by with that pop song playing on the stereo? Well, thanks to organisations like Rights Alliance, that kind of thing is now only a memory. DMCA has become a religion, Trampling on human rights while defending the corporations against non-existing threats has become standard and in many cases even law.

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