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Big Day in Stockholm
Everything's happening at once.
STOCKHOLM (Rixstep) -- There are lots of things going down all at once in Stockholm today. Christian Engström's written a formal protest against the television boycott, Peter 'Boogieman' Danowsky has petitioned the Stockholm district court for an injunction against TPB and one Internet service provider, a nasty (but clumsily flawed) law proposal the sitting government have tried to sit on until after the EU elections has been leaked, a magistrate was appointed by the appeals court to preside over the conflict of interest issue for now-tainted district court magistrate Tomas Norström, and only hours later even this magistrate was outed as a former member of a copyright lobby organisation.
Things are happening fast and they're happening all at once.
Swedish Television Discriminate Against Pirate Party
By Christian Engström of the Swedish Pirate Party. Published today at the website of the Swedish national television.
Swedish Television SVT's Agenda programme held a political debate on Sunday evening in anticipation of the European parliamentary elections. All the sitting political parties were invited but not the June List or the Pirate Party. This despite the fact the June List are already represented in the European parliament and the Pirate Party have more than 5% representation according to most opinion polls and have excellent chances to win seats this time around.
And I don't think this is acceptable behaviour by public service television. SVT's mandate is to depict the society and give citizens relevant and impartial information. And this is especially important at election time.
All parties with a reasonable chance to win seats are interesting for voters. And it's therefore wrong of SVT to favour some of them.
The official excuse SVT gave when I ringed them and expressed my disappointment was that the debate only concerned domestic issues and it was therefore only the sitting parties were invited. I don't buy that excuse.
The polling places open on Wednesday 20 May, three days after the televised debate. The programme will be sent in repeat four times during the preliminary voting period leading up to election day itself. No one can be so naive to not understand that the debate is part of the election campaign - particularly seasoned political reporters at SVT.
And here SVT respond that they usually have one domestic discussion twice a year and that the last one was half a year ago. There are many reasons to have a discussion of domestic issues - but such a debate should have been held in such case after the EU elections.
Because it became an election debate now so close to the elections. And that was the thought behind what SVT did. The introduction made it clear this debate would be about the EU:
'European issues will also be on our agenda, what with the coming EU elections and the coming Swedish chairmanship in the EU.'
'File sharing' were the first words mentioned about the programme in the news broadcast Rapport's 19:30 transmission; 'EU elections' were the last. It would have been rather strange otherwise. If you drag politicians into a televised debate three weeks before an election you're going to have an election debate.
To exclude certain parties that have at least as good a chance to win seats in the European parliament is to not follow the public service mandate for neutral and objective reporting.
SVT also want to explain that it's been recent policy to only allow parties already represented in parliament partake in debates. This might be a policy but in such case it's hardly a policy in accordance with objectivity and neutrality.
The policy turns SVT into a conservative power factor that will in all situations help the established parties at the expense of the new challengers. And this cannot be a part of their mandate for public service.
I was very disappointed that neither the June List nor the Pirate Party were invited to this debate three days before the elections begin on 20 May. We'd have been able to respond to Fredrik Reinfeldt when he stood there and claimed the EU elections weren't that important. If the Pirate Party had been invited we'd have focused the debate on the importance of everyone, especially new voters, really going out and voting.
This EU election is rather unique because the debate before the election is about issues that actually concern the EU and that people are really interested in. What path we choose in our future information society is one of the most important issues the EU parliament will deliberate on in the next few years.
Freedom on the Internet has been threatened and more and more people - especially new voters - have discovered this. If the Pirate Party had been represented at the debate on Sunday we'd have had the chance to explain what we citizens can do about that here and now.
You do something about it by going out to vote. Preferably as soon as possible so that you can devote the rest of the time to talking to your friends and getting them to go out and vote too - which we would have told people on television if we'd had the chance. But things didn't turn out that way.
There'll be a new televised debate 4 June, three days before the elections close. The June List will be represented and this will expressly be an EU election debate. I hope SVT figure out what their role is by then.
The Pirate Party will attend if we're invited. But until that time I encourage voters who've already made up their minds to go and vote now. Wednesday 20 May the elections begin. This is how you vote - it's really easy: you go and vote and you do it as soon as possible!
'They're Trying to Silence Us'
The 'big four' record companies try to impose fines and obtain an injunction against TPB and a Swedish ISP.
The 'big four' record companies are now requesting additional fines against founders of The Pirate Bay as long as the site remains online. And that's just power and control, says Peter Sunde.
'The whole idea is to not give us the ability to voice our opinions - they want to silence us.'
Sunde points out that the submission by the record companies doesn't even bother specifying which files in such case are breaking copyright law.
'This is nothing but a power play', says Sunde.
Sunde also wonders what a Swedish court could possibly do with such a suit inasmuch as TPB aren't located in Sweden.
'I don't think a Swedish district court would approve an injunction. But it's creepy that they try to get the district court to do this without giving us a chance to voice our own opinions. Nothing will come of this', says Sunde.
Sunde promised right after the verdict on 17 April that TPB would continue as before. And it has. But now four Swedish record companies are trying to stop the file sharing of music for which they hold the copyright. In a new submission to the Stockholm district court they petition that TPB be fined for continued activities.
The suit names Gottfrid and Fredrik as responsible for the maintenance of the website but also Peter Sunde 'because he acts as a spokesperson for this intrusion service [sic]'.
Swedish ISP Black Internet is also mentioned in the suit. 'With the help of the network previously controlled by DCS this service now offers an intrusion service [sic].'
Not surprisingly, given the warped and arrogant language of the petition, it's crafted by none other than Peter 'Boogieman' Danowsky. Danowsky in turn is officially representing Universal Music, EMI Music Sweden, Sony Music Entertainment Sweden, and Warner Music Sweden.
Danowsky tells the court there is a need for 'immediate action'.
'This intrusion goes on continually and one can reasonably fear this will cheapen the value of the copyrights plaintiff own or control. Any further delays lead to further damages for plaintiff.'
The four record companies also insist TPB not be allowed to respond to the petition, a demand that's possible in civil courts.
'What a shame they're not more technically competent', says Black Internet CEO Victor Möller. 'They're just making a lot of trouble for people who have nothing to do with the matter.'
Möller says the record companies have misunderstood the role of the Internet service providers. 'They don't understand how the Internet works. They're clutching at straws.'
Peter 'Boogieman' Danowsky refuses to discuss the case.
Conservative Swedish MP Karl Sigfrid says he's extremely worried about these developments, saying it would be a watershed if Black Internet were forced to close down.
'The petition by the record companies is an attempt to establish a new principle of law whereby Internet service providers are considered responsible for data passing through their networks', says Sigfrid. 'If today's legislation allows this type of
Internet censorship then we must make our freedoms of expression and information much clearer.'
Swedish Govt Shoot IPRED Full of Holes
But not intentionally of course. Purely through amateurish clumsiness.
Sweden's IPRED law will become totally ineffective when the government push through their new law for data storage at the new year. 'They really blew it', says Bahnhof CEO Jon Karlung. 'They shot IPRED full of holes.'
The remittance on the new law was leaked from the cabinet last week. The proposal means all telco operators in Sweden will be required to save traffic data for at least a half year. The proposal was immediately met with fierce criticism for its threat to integrity on the Internet.
But the proposal will have surprising effects according to Bahnhof CEO Jon Karlung. Bahnhof, Tele 2, and a few other operators are already destroying their traffic data regularly and therefore have no information to turn over to copyright holders even if they demand it and refer to IPRED which passed into law on (appropriately) 1 April 2009.
But when the new law passes into effect at the new year customer traffic data will be protected even with the other Internet operators such as Telia, Comhem, and Bredbandsbolaget.
This because the information, according to the new law, may only be divulged to the police and prosecutors in order to investigate 'serious' crimes. The information may not be released to copyright holders as evidence to be used against file sharers. This is a possibility the IFPI and the Antipiracy Bureau have requested (in vain).
'The government screwed up. This is an oversight. All information that arrives is automatically protected. And the consequence is that IPRED won't work any longer. It will be a crime to release the information', says Jon Karlung.
Karlung's otherwise been one of the harshest critics of the EU directive this legislation is based on. But he still finds the new proposal more acceptable than he had feared. The government have heard the criticism. They've limited the law to six months storage, the minimum time recommended by the directive.
'I still don't like people eavesdropping on other people's communication but it does seem the government have listened to the debate', says Karlung. 'This is a rather well balanced proposal.'
The government point out that the leaked remittance has not yet been signed by Sweden's minister of justice Beatrice Ask and that formally it does not yet exist.
But it exists online.
Beatrice Ask and her government had been hoping they'd avoid disclosure and a discussion of their proposal before the EU elections, says satmaran. 'And it's totally against the spirit of democracy. The government want votes in the EU elections and so they can't put the proposal on the table even though it's ready, but even this they won't admit. This is the same cowardly cheating game Reinfeldt played with IPRED before the 2006 elections. 'We're not going to criminalise an entire generation' is what he said back then. But they forced IPRED through anyway.'
'But we who've been around the block a few times know that as soon as the EU elections are over the proposal will turn up and be pushed through. What we don't yet know is if the directive will give the copyright industry access to our IPs.'
'The directive is supposed to combat serious crime and terrorism, but will the copyright industry be able to exploit it to hunt down file sharers? How will the government handle this issue? File sharing is hardly a serious crime - it's not terrorism either - so it's going to be interesting to see how things turn out.'
I think it's in poor taste that people's communications are stored for a half year. Even if they say they're doing this to combat terrorism and the criminal element the copyright industry can be aided by such a law and it will turn into a hunt on file sharers instead.
- Jon Karlung
This storage has the consequence that the government can register people's contacts on the Internet and on the telephone even if they're not suspected of criminal activity. This is against our constitution and the European convention on human rights.
- Christian Engström
The Internet is no play school where politicians can do what they want. Constitutional law must also apply to the Internet. We have a right to keep our private lives private.
- Christian Engström
The law also has the consequence that all our cellphone calls will be registered along with information about where we were at the time of each call. In one fell swoop our cellphones are turned into electronic manacles in the service of the government. This is unacceptable in a peacetime democracy.
- Christian Engström
New TPB Magistrate Also Has Conflicts of Interest
Gee where does it end?
Appeals court TPB magistrate Ulrika Ihrfelt won't be able to function properly in the matter of conflict of interest in the district court trial of TPB. One reason is she's previously been a member of the Swedish copyright association.
'We've received a complaint demanding the conflict of interest matter be handled by another department', reveals the appeals court's cabinet chief.
Ulrika Ihrfelt was chosen to lead the TPB case in the appeals court Svea hovrätt. But she's been a member of the same copyright organisation as the now tainted district court magistrate Tomas Norström. This prompted people in her department to submit a request to have the issue of conflict of interest decided by another of the court's departments.
'We've received a complaint demanding the conflict of interest matter be handled by another department. Such a complaint is normally approved', says Ragnar Palmkvist of the appeals court.
The complaint was sent directly to the chairman of the court. The decision will be taken tomorrow but it looks like Ulrika Ihrfelt won't be in on the conflict of interest decision.
Anna Karin Ulrika Ihrfelt, born 13 December 1962, is a neighbour of Henrik Pontén. She'd just been chosen to lead the case in the appeals court when the complaint was sent. The question is why she didn't immediately recuse herself. That question hasn't been answered. She did however claim she had no conflicts of interest.
'I left the copyright association back in 2005 when I left the supreme court', said Ihrfelt. 'I haven't paid membership dues for several years now.'
But the reason she left the association wasn't to remain impartial. When she was working at the supreme court on IP issues she felt it was important to be a member of the association. But she's been working on other issues at the appeals court since then.
Ihrfelt doesn't have any revenue streams from copyrighted materials. 'I don't get any royalties', she insists.
'One considers one's impartiality in all cases', Ihrfelt says. 'I didn't think I had any conflicts of interest in the case of TPB.'