Saturday, April 18, 2009

Copyright Infringement Consistancy?

Peter Sunde, Frederik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg and Carl Lundstrom were collectively found guilty of promoting copyright infringement this week by a Swedish court. They were heavily fined and also each was sentenced to a year in prison. These were the men behind The Pirate Bay, the world's most high-profile file-sharing site.

This rare victory for the entertainment industry could have some double edge implications and now exposes the inconsistency of approach to piracy across borders and media sectors.

The Pirate Bay defendants claim that although shocked by the severity of the judgement they openly expected to loose. The fine of $4.5 million was a fraction of the $17.5 million sought and the ensuing appeal process is likely to be drawn out and long with The Pirate Bay now have nothing to loose and determined to fight on. Every piece of press creates further awareness of the dangers of piracy, the challenges of protecting copyright and also gives the pirates the publicity and market awareness they crave. Some say it also elevates them within an anti establishment sub culture.

Unlike Napster, Kazza and other from the past The Pirate Bay has been found guilty of not storing materials or distributing materials but in providing links to materials. Sunde claims that in doing this, they are not different how services such as Google and search engines work. An interesting perspective when we consider the basis of the Internet itself is based on links, indexes and search and discovery.

The book industry challenges to digital infringement have not followed the hard line of the music industry. There is the Scribd, Wattpad and eBay piracy files which are not links but hosted or sold product. Yet we see no court action, just a take down notices and slapped wrist behind closed doors. As we have said before we don’t say this is wrong but that we should have a public awareness of the files and offenders. Then there is the Great book Bank Robbery where the party challenged could be seen by many to being rewarded for their infringements. Also rewarded with something that any party involved owned and granted a monopoly of it to boot! This sends out what message?

Copyright will remain a digital battleground but consistency and education are important if the general public are to be brought onboard.

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