Posting this a few days late since my webhost was having problems, so hence all my sites have been down for the last few days. Really annoying…
Firstly, it’s a bit late but I have to say how shocked I was at the sentencing of the Pirate Bay founders – a year in jail and 30m Kronor (£2.4m) is not something that even a Mafia-connected or Drug-trade connected DVD/CD pirate would get, not that I think they are even in the same league or as culpable as those people. You can kill someone with reckless drunken driving and get less jailtime and certainly less fine….goes to show that of course property (as in the G20 riots) is seen as more important than people.
And the ‘good’ reasons for this action have piled up – cinemas are losing ticket sales, right? (nope). But the music industry is in peril cos of downloading and torrents? (not really and nope it’s just changing). And of course all artists see bittorrent and online sharing of free content as evil that will destroy their career and must be destroyed? (nope, nope and nope)
Fortunate in my lateness of response I’ve had time to gauge the responses of others, and I’ve noticed a worrying trend amongst some, especially those who ‘transform’ copyrighted work (mashups etc) to say something along the lines as ‘Good. They were dirty pirates and not like us cos honour among thieves we transform our works’. WRONG.
Really they are different sides of the same coin, don’t delude yourself about that. It’s divisive and exactly what they want. It does raise an interesting question though: How much do you need to transform a work to change it from piracy to mashups?
Where do you draw the line, say with film. Are redubs transformative? Re-edits? Mashups with other films? Fan vids? Fan reviews? Fan recreations? Artistic comment or review using the original work as examples or ‘quotations’? It all goes back to Korda and that Che Guevara image. What you might not think as creative, others do.
It’s far more muddy unclear area than you think. One man’s transformation is another man’s rip-off. YouTube doesn’t see my video mashups as transformative, it’s fingerprinting technology just spots say Office Space or Depeche Mode and automatically nixes it – regardless of ‘fair use’ – which is a law that only the US has, and is fairly niche - other places like Sweden and the UK I think do not preserve the right to parody and copy for most uses, apart from very old laws about photocopying and quotation in a print context.
As Shephard Fairey is finding with the Obama poster, how much a work is ‘transformative’ is a problem. AP can and did take pictures of the whole work (without people, a la Sherrie Levine) and present them as their own copyright…which they can. But when Shephard takes one of their images, redraws it totally and changes it subtly they sue him:
It may seem obvious to you the difference between a mashup and a direct copy, but try writing down the differences…in a legal form that everyone understands AND is water tight AND covers all situations without destroying creativity, art or centuries of artistic quotation and appropriation. That’s the problem, coupled with the fact that yes judges don’t understand the technology, that expensive lobbyists and lawyers are paid for by the big 4.
They are still in that (Dean) Gray area.
That’s not to say I’ve not had my qualms with the Pirate Bay guys – the fact their ISP and backer (the ’4th man’) Carl Lundstrom has links to far-right groups in the past – although as the other people pointed out he owns one of the biggest ISPs in Sweden so the fact they host with him doesn’t imply a relationship. Although he helped them out early on as one of them worked for his ISP, the suggestion that the TPB guys are fascists, or that Lundstrom wanted access to the youth by TPB is ridiculous. If you listen to the ignorant rabble such as The Register, the tabloid red-top of the digital world, well you get what you deserve.
I did write a long post regards this (annoyed by The Register article) then realised this was a shock/scare tactic by the likes of Petter Nilsson (the questioner in the video) and Expo and the opponents of Piratebay to dirty their reputation. If you look into the background of the people, research around the subject you find that it’s not all clean either, they are opposed to Lundstrom for other reasons than just politics. He’s an unpopular guy in Sweden….and it’s far more complex than what was presented by the likes of The Register. Also I HATE it when people cry Neo-nazi when it’s far from obvious they are (certainly the man is dodgy in this regard, but far from being a Nick Griffin), it’s like crying fire in a crowded theatre. It’s bad journalism and yes I think Godwin’s Law should apply.
So treat The Pirate Bay guys as the first guard of what will happen to the rest of us; not going to repeat Pastor Niemoeller again but certainly grasping to the idea that ‘Hey guys, don’t shoot me, I create mashups and edit the work!’ when it’s as equally illegal will not save you. The fact TPB is a torrent site and not direct linking to the files means that in Sweden at least other sites that link to ‘objectionable’ content are at risk….Google is an unlikely one, but certainly if the precedent like with YouTube that even linking to copyright content is verboten then that leads to all kinds of horrors, including the total fragmentation on the Internet and ‘freezing effect’ on new technologies.