[A2k] Walk the plank, copyright middlemen: Long live The Pirate Bay!

Riaz K Tayob riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Sat Feb 1 05:26:00 PST 2014

  Walk the plank, copyright middlemen: Long live The Pirate Bay!


Rick Falkvinge is the founder of the first Pirate Party and campaigns 
for sensible information policy.

Get short URL <http://rt.com/op-edge/dutch-court-pirate-bay-457/>
Published time: January 31, 2014 13:22
Image from flickr user at campuspartymexico

Image from flickr user at campuspartymexico

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Copyright <http://rt.com/tags/copyright/>, Court 
<http://rt.com/tags/court/>, Europe <http://rt.com/tags/europe/>, 
Internet <http://rt.com/tags/internet/>, Piracy 

This week, a Dutch court in The Hague ordered the censorship of The 
Pirate Bay to be lifted, calling it ineffective.

This creates hope that an until-now technophobic court system is 
starting to listen less to obsolete middlemen, and more to research, 
facts and liberties. Let's look at the effects.

It was always a given that a court-ordered censorship of any website 
would be ineffective to the point of never being noticed at all. The 
Internet doesn't lend itself to censorship -- it was designed to 
withstand a full-scale nuclear war and is certainly capable of dealing 
with the odd judge who lends their ear too much to an obsolete and 
panicked middleman industry. So far, every attempt at censorship -- for 
let's call a spade a spade here -- has just served to draw more 
attention to The Pirate Bay.

It's important that the court ruled the censorship ineffective, and 
therefore ordered it discontinued. Any limitations of so-called 
fundamental rights, of which the right to correspondence is one, must 
meet three criteria -- they must be necessary, effective and 
proportionate. That is, there must be an identified need for them, the 
proposed solution must meet that need, and it mustn't cause worse damage 
in the process.

By ruling that censorship is ineffective (instead of just abstaining 
from ruling it effective), the Dutch court effectively made further 
censorship of The Pirate Bay impossible across all of Europe. This is 
tremendously good news, and we should expect to see previously misguided 
courts in countries like Denmark and the UK follow this ruling, lifting 
their corresponding misguided censorship.

When something like this happens, one question invariably pops up: /"If 
file sharing is legal, how will the artists get paid?"/ This is a red 
herring, a distraction, for three reasons.

First, large-scale file sharing has been a reality since 1999 and 
Napster, and during that time, there has been a massive wealth transfer 
from the previous gatekeeper middlemen to newly-minted artists. Legal or 
not, 250 million Europeans and 150 million Americans are doing it. 
According to a Norwegian study, the average income of musicians has 
risen 114 percent since the advent of large-scale online sharing of 
culture and knowledge in violation of the copyright monopolies. The 
artists themselves are doing better than ever.

AFP Photo / Frederic J. Brown

AFP Photo / Frederic J. Brown

Second, today's copyright monopoly structures make sure that 99.99 
percent of artists never see a cent in copyright royalties. The 
overwhelming majority, 99 percent of artists never get signed with one 
of the gatekeeper middlemen, and out of those who do get signed, 99 
percent of those never see a cent in royalty. It comes across as very 
odd to defend a system that makes sure that only 1 in 10,000 artists can 
make money with the question /"How will the artists get paid if you 
remove this system?"/ It's at that point that you start looking at who, 
specifically, is asking that question -- and discover that it's 
consistently the obsolete middlemen and the already-rich artists who are 
asking it, who have a vested interest in not allowing more artists into 
the moneymaking crowd. Meanwhile, the struggling artists are relying on 
sites like The Pirate Bay to make money -- sites that these gatekeepers 
therefore desire to banish, to keep control of that entire economy to 

Third, the question is irrelevant in the first place. Today, we can use 
any digital communications channel for private, confidential 
correspondence, or we can use it to transmit art that is under copyright 
monopoly. You cannot discover the latter without also seeing the former 
-- the act of sorting legal from illegal communication requires 
observation, and so we've come to a point where enforcement of the 
copyright monopoly has become mutually exclusive with private 
communications as a concept. As a society, it shouldn't even be a 
question that the ability to talk in private has greater value than a 
distribution monopoly for one particular entertainment industry.

The real question is: /"Which do you prefer -- the ability to hold a 
private conversation at all, or having the next Transformers movie 
funded by middlemen exactly the same way such works have been funded for 
the past quarter-century?"/ That's the choice to be made, and the 
copyright industry is doing everything in their power to distract from 
the fact that this is where the decision lies, because it means the 
entire industry would be dropped like a bad habit.

Good riddance. Let's focus on the civil liberties the net brings us, and 
cherish the sharing of art, culture and knowledge. The parasitic 
commercial middlemen of the copyright industry have no place in the new 
world. Long live The Pirate Bay!

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely 
those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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