The Meaning of the Commons: Imagination and Solidarity

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Great talk by Law Professor Louis Wolcher. This is the first talk in a one day conference on part of The Law of the Commons Organized by the Seattle Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild Friday, March 13, 2009. Here is the programme.

The Pirate Bay Guilty of Helping Sharing People?

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The Swedish legal system – running errands of Hollywood and the recording industries – have decided that helping people to share their digital data across the Internet is illegal. They might be guilty in the eyes of a corrupt court of law and in the corporate press, but in my book they are fine people, caring and sharing. It is the new world against those of old who hold on to their power and money – accumulated through exploitation over centuries and generations.

In a landmark ruling, the Stockholm district court sentenced Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij and Carl Lundstrom to one year each in prison.

They were also ordered to pay damages of 30 million kronor ($3.6 million) to a series of entertainment companies, including Warner Bros, Sony Music Entertainment, EMI and Columbia Pictures.

The Pirate Bay provides a forum for its estimated 22 million users to download content through so-called torrent files. The site has become the entertainment industry’s enemy No. 1 after successful court actions against file-swapping sites such as Grokster and Kazaa.”

– more here from a Wired blog (see also BBC) as well as Alan Toner’s two extensive commentaries [1/2].

“The Pirate Bay founders got their start in Sweden, a country that once was considered a bastion of piracy. The trial changed that image, along with a new law that took effect April 1 that allows content owners to force internet service providers to reveal subscriber data in piracy investigations.

The defendants, though, say their servers are scattered throughout the world– hidden out of reach of the Swedish authorities.

One minute after the judgment was public Friday, Sweden’s Pirate Party issued a press release claiming: “The verdict is our ticket to the EU Parliament”, referring to the election that takes place in the beginning of June.

The party’s top candidate, Christian Engström, comments: “Sweden has now outlawed one of our most successful ambassadors. We have long been a leading IT nation but with these kind of actions we will be left behind and become dependent on other nations’ arbitrary views”.”

God forbid that people should use the new technologies – Imagine if people had just started printing pamphlets and bibles and things like that, just because the printing press has been invented?!?! Or started to make use of the photographic lense to produce cultural artifacts?!?! That could have led to thriving economies, such as news corporations, movie and music recording industries – Oh, hold on – that DID happen?!?! But this is as far as we go, it seems. The conservative, capitalist shareholders and their lawyers have decided that we have reached the end. They are now – as enemies of progress, sharing and community – legitimate targets for political action by any decent means necessary.

However, they are not sent off to do hard time just yet. The Guardian writes:

A Stockholm court found the four defendants guilty of making 33 specific files accessible for illegal sharing through The Pirate Bay, which means they will have to pay compensation to 17 different music and media companies including Sony BMG, Universal, EMI, Warner, MGM and 20th Century Fox.

All four have pledged to appeal against the decision though the process may take several years.

One of the defendants, Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi, admitted on Twitter that Pirate Bay had lost its case.

“Stay calm – nothing will happen to TPB, us personally or filesharing what so ever. This is just a theatre for the media,” he said.

“Really, it’s a bit LOL. It used to be only movies, now even verdicts are out before the official release.”

In Politiken one of the pirates is quoted as saying “a confused and poor judgement” while some lawyer for a musician association reckons that ThePirateBay takes away the “daily bread” of the musicians and that the pirates blow their own trumpets in the name Robin Hood – and typical of his creed he invokes emotional sentiments, when he that musicians cannot buy baby clothes. For crying out loud? Is that the argumentative capacity of a lawyer representing artists?

Funny that, last time I talked to a musician who wasn’t in the pocket of the recording industry they were very enthusiastic about the new distribution and advertising platform that P2P offers. Last time I checked how, say, David Bowie and Madonna were doing financially, they did not seem to suffer AT ALL?!? It has never been too easy to be an artist, but new ways of reaching audiences are great for all, but the corporate shareholders, perhaps, but who in the heaven’s name cares for them?

See also the Wikipedia entry for the Piratebay case.


Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’.
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.

Are humans collectively intelligent? Rejecting the ecofascist label.

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Some “consultant” – whatever that consultation may be – takes note that environmental celebrity and Leonardo DiCaprio chum, David Suzuki, thinks that letting the world turn into a baking hot desert with sulphuric rain is a crime demanding punishment:

As reported by a University of Toronto student newspaper, Suzuki stated that government leaders who aren’t acting quickly enough to save the environment “should go to jail for what they’re not doing right now … What our government is not doing is a criminal act.”

Here one might ask if not it ought to be the ultimate crime to destroy the planet? What could possible be a worse crime against humanity, against civilization, against all life?

However, the consultant, God knows who he’s been consulting?, “thinks” that this is a fascist action:

This bit of eco-fascism was no mere slip of the tongue. A few weeks later at McGill University, Suzuki again equated government inaction on the environment with a criminal act and again was reported to have told students to find a legal way to throw politicians in jail for ignoring climate-change science.

It is worth keeping in mind that Suzuki is a geneticist turned broadcaster and not an expert on climate change. He apparently is no expert on the fundamental tenants of living in a democracy either.

The consultant, obviously an expert on democracy, in other words, is of the opinion that fiddling while Rome burns is a democratic – right or privilege?

What exactly is it that renders the socalled elected representatives beyond jurisdiction? Why does Kissinger get the Nobel Peace Prize and not life in prison?

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