Peer pressure

On: April 18, 2009
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“When Napster told the district court that it had developed a technology to block the transfer of 99.4 percent of identified infringing material, the district court told counsel for Napster 99.4 percent was not good enough. Napster had to push the infringements ‘down to zero’. If 99.4 percent is not good enough, then this is a war on file-sharing technologies, not a war on copyright infringement.” (Lessig,, p.74)

What is the percentage of identified infringing material on the Pirate bay? The discourse whether This portal is illegal or not shouldn’t be that complex. Free Culture, to me, is very important. We have should take the distribution of creativity very seriously! Creativity is the catalyst for inspiration, which in its place, is responsible for the social, political, and commercial development of our cultural identity. P2P – as an infrastructure – is a substantial contribution to the development of our cultural identity. The Pirate Bay (what’s in the name) facilitates this contribution as well! but, this has its influence on the revenue of honest creators. If we accept and normalize an amount of distributed infringing material, then, on the basis of the ratio between illegal and legal distribution, we could determine whether a facilitator operates illegal.

A few questions pop up… What really is illegal, when we accept a system that is old and based upon ‘property’ in a virtual world of endless reproductivity? Does a maximum compressed movie-file, which doesn’t comes near the original quality, is eligible for copyright infringement? Or, why should we prohibit or normalize illegal downloading when we technologically could enforce zero tolerance? Why isn’t the government being held responsible when a car driver is speeding and distrusting cocaine? P2P is held responsible in the same way! In my opinion, if the Pirate bay is excessively violating the norm (not 99.4%) then they should be punished! But what is the norm? Maybe we should be focusing on that!

5 Responses to “Peer pressure”
  • April 19, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    You have pointing out a very good question; exactly what is the norm? And how do old laws of the physical reflect on the digital? One way of dealing with this stuff (instead of being a nagging old large music copyright company) is providing users different options:
    The new album of this band is free for download (hosted by mininova!) and physically for sale for a reasonable price. Result: a very busy release-show…

  • April 19, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    I (and the law) don’t agree that we should determine the fate of a site “on the basis of the ratio between illegal and legal distribution”. The Safe Harbor provision of the DMCA also needs to be protected, regardless of what percentage of material is being uploaded by a site’s users. Of course the Pirate Bay (and others) are taking advantage of Safe Harbor and arguably exceeding whatever “percentage norm” you have in mind…seriously, my guess is more than half their content is illegal, no?

    From what I understand, The Pirate Bay was found guilty for “assisting in making copyright content available”, but this really is a gray area as it contradicts Safe Harbor. So with this logic, hopefully their appeal will work itself out.

  • April 19, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    @tjerk….yes the “CC” and free music available by Beep!Beep! is excellent. They’ve torrented their tracks on Mininova, a great example of legal BitTorrenting (aside from NIN, are there other good examples?)

  • April 20, 2009 at 2:48 am

    I am no expert on law, but it seems to evolve around ‘common sense’, right? Is this Northern American common sense (DMCA) – created eleven year ago or some what – still reasonable / viable? Isn’t Copyright law undermined by local administrations? The Swedish copyright appeal could be a precedent-setting case that other countries will follow, but it seems unworkable due to the fact that ‘common sense’ is determined by time and place. That’s why, I think it would be better, first, to determine the damages caused by the infringement on intellectual property. Second, to introduce a special tax based on potential usage (bandwidth). And thirdly, finding a way (common sense) to reimburse the rightful owners / creators. To me, this is a solution, not to the ‘protection’ of copyright, but to the distribution of creativity, without changing into a society of total control and punishment.

  • April 21, 2009 at 2:31 am

    True, copyright is undermined by local law, but in the case of Sweden they uphold a similar safe harbor law as is in the DMCA and TPB tried to protect themselves with this claim.

    While I think that your 3 part solution is somewhat “idealistic”, it is a bit unrealistic considering the amount of time and money that would be necessary just to calculate and distribute all the reimbursements.

    …And I think it is contradictory to your original quote by Lessig – if we want to move forward on issues of copyright infringement we need transformation at the level of the law. Otherwise we will continue to fight these suits case-by-case and reimbursement-by-reimbursement.

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