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It's About Links
But it's about a lot more.
Håkan Roswall says he's ready to charge TPB. Those who know Håkan Roswall know that doesn't have to mean anything: he's known for pursuing his man even if he knows him to be innocent. But in this case it's not a typical Håkan Roswall incompetent blunder - it's not Håkan Roswall making yet another futile attempt to understand bits and bytes. This time it's someone else calling the shots for him.
The TPB trial is going to be different from other file sharing trials.
What the court must decide is whether it's illegal to offer links to copyrighted materials. Even if rulings have varied in the past the cases have been relatively uncomplicated. Someone with copyrighted music or movies on their computer hard drive made it available to someone else and thus the question for the court is whether copyright law has been broken.
But when after one and one half years Håkan Roswall is finally ready to bring charges it won't be like before. The police have not found any copyrighted material on the TPB servers they confiscated in May 2006 - and Roswall admits it. But he adds that the charges will instead be accessory to crime against copyright law and attempt to break copyright law. What Roswall wants is to see if it's illegal to offer links - or TPB's torrents - to other people's computers.
'They've tested this in both Norway and Finland and found parties guilty so it's not something revolutionary', says Roswall.
But it isn't that cut and dried according to Daniel Westman of the The Swedish Law and Informatics Research Institute in Stockholm. And as per usual when it comes to the Internet legislation is not really up to date.
'There have been cases in both Germany and Norway that state creating a link cannot be construed as making copyrighted material illegally accessible.'
Westman suggests the decisive issue for the court and even for future cases will be if the owners of TBP were attempting to break the law. This interpretation is strengthened by the fact TPB often publish letters from representatives of the MPAA and the RIAA who demand TPB links be removed - along with their own comments.
But It's About More
But this case - this abortive case - is about a lot more. Odds are this case would never have taken place - no police bust, no confiscated computers, no nothing - if the MPAA and the RIAA had not summoned representatives of the Swedish government - the last government who screwed up so bad in Southeast Asia - to Washington to hear what thumb screws would be applied if they didn't do the DRM dance.
'Ministerstyre' is a crime in Sweden. It's about politicians telling people what to do. They can't do it. It's against the law. And it's patently obvious to everyone that's exactly what happened. The MPAA and the RIAA lobbied Washington; Washington summoned Stockholm; Stockholm gave Håkan Roswall a call. The rest is history.
As almost anyone would assert: you can't make something illegal if it turns 80% of the citizenry into criminals. It just doesn't happen. And the only reason we're in this situation is the people running the MPAA and the RIAA today lack the wherewithal to create proper markets for their products. The old markets are no more - and they're still trying to threaten and scare the world into pulling back the hands of the clock. It simply won't work. But the MPAA and the RIAA don't care.
And they don't care how many lives they ruin in the process either.
This trial is about more than TPB. And it's time people told the MPAA and the RIAA to 'stop it'. When organisations like theirs are able to influence the internal affairs of other countries a dangerous line has been crossed.
Not the line of what TPB are doing: the line of letting the MPAA and the RIAA dangle Håkan Roswall on a string.