Is online piracy a good thing?

A Pirate Bay server, confiscated by police last year, on display in Stockholm's Technical Museum.
Lawmakers have come to a decision in Sweden’s landmark copyright case, finding the four men behind one of the world’s most popular file-sharing sites, The Pirate Bay guilty of collaborating to violate copyright law and jailing them for a year.

But, the copyright war is far from over. The fierce battles between corporations and pirates over how to control information on the Internet will continue to be fought. Here we ask two players in the fight to command how movies, music, video games and more are distributed on the Internet — Monique Wadsted, the lawyer prosecuting The Pirate Bay case for major motion picture studios and record labels including Sony BMG and Universal, and Magnus Eriksson, co-founder Piratbyran, the loosely formed group of theorists, artists and programmers most famous for founding The Pirate Bay — whether online piracy is good thing. Is file-sharing piracy theft Is sharing culture on the internet a good thing Tell us what you think NO Monique Wadsted, Swedish lawyer What is going on now is actually a plundering of author’s works. If some authors find it good to market their products using file-sharing they are free to do that. But, that is not what is happening at the moment. What’s happening at the moment is that authors’ and rights holders’ works are file-shared against their will and that is not acceptable. It’s a big threat to the creative industries and the creators, as such, of course. If you as an individual are going to use your money only to buy the latest computer and the latest broadband and not pay anything for the content, well, what will happen in the future Somebody has to pay for the production of the content. It doesn’t seem really fair that the only ones that are earning money on file-sharing are the producers of computers and broadband. We know that not everybody that downloads movies would have gone to the movies but, of course, movies and DVDs are specifically a product that once you have consumed it, it is consumed. Many of the people that download are not film geeks, are not nerds. They are ordinary people and for them, as long as it’s possible, they do it. But, they understand it won’t go on forever. Even younger children understand it’s impossible to be able to take part of new movies and new music without paying for it.

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There are a lot of legal services, but it’s very, very hard to compete with “for free.” If you do a pirate service, you don’t have to take into consideration anything at all. You don’t have to take into consideration your existing business relations, you don’t have to take into consideration your agreement with the authors. You don’t have to take anything into consideration. I don’t think you have to participate in illegal activities to be innovative. If we take the Spotify [music-sharing site] guys, it’s a perfect example of very good, creative, innovative business that is totally legal. And there are a lot of people around the world finding solutions and trying to build services. So, hold on. Do you agree Sound Off below YES Magnus Eriksson, Co-founder Piratbyran For the majority of artists, file-sharing has been beneficial. It’s just a small minority that were heavily marketed by the industry in the past that suffer losses, mostly because people spend their money on a broader selection of music. File-sharing is a neutral endeavor. It has great opportunities to be at the center of a dynamic cultural life where you don’t need large resources to participate and get a global reach where hidden gems from the cultural history can be revitalized. On the other hand, if you are stuck in the manufacturing paradigm, file-sharing will seriously hurt your business. Access to the Internet is becoming a fundamental basis for being able to participate in the culture and politics of late modern society. The more important this communication gets, the more important it becomes to keep it neutral and open, not in the hands of politicians or corporations.

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Cinema is doing better than ever. They calculate losses by looking at the number of downloads and imagining that all of them would have been a purchase if they hadn’t been downloaded first. The film industry is very centralized, which means they have a really hard time adjusting to changes in the market. For example, due to file-sharing, people discover a broader range of films than before but cinemas have done nothing to work with this insight. In today’s economy, innovation and new expression comes from the margins, from unexpected directions. Giving access to all is the best way to promote the creative diversity that makes society resilient to changes and shocks. The option to monitor all communications, fight all new digital technologies and spread a culture of fear in what should be a free and open communication network is not a desirable option. The Internet revolution meant that we created a global network where any digital entity could connect and exchange information with any other. Anti-piracy efforts must be seen the light of a counter-revolution against this that goes all the way to the very infrastructure of the Net. Do you agree Sound Off below