There’s lots of academic and commercial effort put into stopping software and other intellectual property piracy, especially for videos. A form of risk management, I suppose, but one that ignores the much bigger risk to traditional intellectual property
of causing political blowback such as what just happened in Sweden:
“Together, we have today changed the landscape of European politics. No matter how this night ends, we have changed it,” Falkvinge said. “This feels wonderful. The citizens have understood it’s time to make a difference. The older politicians have taken apart young peoples’ lifestyle, bit by bit. We do not accept that the authorities’ mass-surveillance,” he added.
Funny thing about what happens when the majority of the population participates in an illegal activity: eventually it’s not illegal anymore.
At least partially, The Pirate Party puts its increased popularity down to harsh copyright laws and the recent conviction of the people behind The Pirate Bay. After the Pirate Bay verdict, Pirate Party membership more than tripled and they now have over 48,000 registered members, more than the total number of votes they received in 2006.
With their presence in Brussels, the Pirate Party hopes to reduce the abuses of power and copyright at the hands of the entertainment industries, and make those activities illegal instead. On the other hand they hope to legalize file-sharing for personal use.
Many of those abuses of power probably already are illegal; the appropriate laws
just aren’t being enforced. We saw this during alcohol prohibition in the U.S., and we
see it now with marijuana prohibition in the U.S. The first prohibition ended, the second probably will, and meanwhile, online “piracy” is on its way to being redefined.
Beijing has recently added a new weapon to its arsenal of surveillance
technologies, a system it believes to be a modern marvel: the Golden
Shield. It took eight years and $700 million to build, and its mission
is to “purify” the Internet — an apparently urgent task. “Whether we
can cope with the Internet is a matter that affects the development of
socialist culture, the security of information, and the stability of
the state,” President Hu Jintao said in January.
The Golden Shield — the latest addition to what is widely referred
to as the Great Firewall of China — was supposed to monitor, filter,
and block sensitive online content. But only a year after completion,
it already looks doomed to fail. True, surveillance remains widespread,
and outspoken dissidents are punished harshly. But my experience as
a correspondent in China for seven years suggests that the country’s
stranglehold on the communications of its citizens is slipping: Bloggers
and other Web sources are rapidly supplanting Communist-controlled
news outlets. Cyberprotests have managed to bring about an important
constitutional change. And ordinary Chinese citizens can circumvent
the Great Firewall and evade other forms of police observation with
surprising ease. If they know how.