Posts tagged ‘sweden’

TorrentFreak: The Copyright Monopoly Wars Are About To Repeat, But Much Worse

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Rick Falkvinge. Original post: at TorrentFreak

copyright-brandedPeople sometimes ask me when I started questioning if the copyright monopoly laws were just, proper, or indeed sane. I respond truthfully that it was about 1985, when we were sharing music on cassette tapes and the copyright industry called us thieves, murderers, rapists, arsonists, and genocidals for manufacturing our own copies without their permission.

Politicians didn’t care about the issue, but handwaved away the copyright industry by giving them private taxation rights on cassette tapes, a taxation right that would later infest anything with digital storage capacity, ranging from games consoles to digital cameras.

In 1990, I bought my first modem, connecting to FidoNet, an amateur precursor to the Internet that had similar addressing and routing. We were basically doing what the Internet is used for today: chatting, discussing, sharing music and other files, buying and selling stuff, and yes, dating and flirting. Today, we do basically the same things in prettier colors, faster, and more realtime, on considerably smaller devices. But the social mechanisms are the same.

The politicians were absolutely clueless.

The first signal that something was seriously wrong in the heads of politicans was when they created a DMCA-like law in Sweden in 1990, one that made a server owner legally liable for forum posts made by somebody else on that server, if the server operator didn’t delete the forum post on notice. For the first time in modern history, a messenger had been made formally responsible for somebody else’s uttered opinion. People who were taking part in creating the Internet at the time went to Parliament to try to explain the technology and the social contract of responsibilities, and walked away utterly disappointed and desperate. The politicians were even more clueless than imagined.

It hasn’t gotten better since. Cory Doctorow’s observation in his brilliant speech about the coming war on general computing was right: Politicians are clueless about the Internet because they don’t care about the Internet. They care about energy, healthcare, defense, education, and taxes, because they only understand the problems that defined the structures of the two previous generations – the structures now in power have simply retained their original definition, and those are the structures that put today’s politicians in power. Those structures are incapable of adapting to irrelevance.

Enter bitcoin.

The unlicensed manufacturing of movie and music copies were and are such small time potatoes the politicians just didn’t and don’t have time for it, because energy healthcare defense. Creating draconian laws that threaten the Internet wasn’t an “I think this is a good idea” behavior. It has been a “copyright industry, get out of my face” behavior. The copryight industry understands this perfectly, of course, and throws tantrums about every five years to get more police-like powers, taxpayer money, and rent from the public coffers. Only when the population has been more in the face of politicians than the copyright industry – think SOPA, ACTA – have the politicians backpedaled, usually with a confused look on their faces, and then absentmindedly happened to do the right thing before going back to energy healthcare defense.

However, cryptocurrency like bitcoin – essentially the same social mechanisms, same social protocols, same distributed principles as BitTorrent’s sharing culture and knowledge outside of the copyright industry’s monopolies – is not something that passes unnoticed. Like BitTorrent showed the obsolescence of the copyright monopoly, bitcoin demonstrates the obsolescence of central banks and today’s entire financial sector. Like BitTorrent didn’t go head-to-head with the copyright monopoly but just circumvented it as irrelevant, bitcoin circumvents every single financial regulation as irrelevant. And like BitTorrent saw uptake in the millions, so does bitcoin.

Cryptocurrency is politically where culture-sharing was in about 1985.

Politicians didn’t care about the copyright monopoly. They didn’t. Don’t. No, they don’t, not in the slightest. That’s why the copyright industry has been given everything they point at. Now for today’s million dollar question: do you think politicians care about the authority of the central bank and the core controllability of funds, finances, and taxation?

YES. VERY MUCH.

This is going to get seriously ugly. But this time, we have a blueprint from the copyright monopoly wars. Cory Doctorow was right when he said this isn’t the war, this is just the first skirmish over control of society as a whole. The Internet generation is claiming that control, and the old industrial generation is pushing back. Hard.

We’ve already seen the magic trigger words usually applied to culture-sharing being tried on bitcoin. Like this infamous quote:

“Bitcoin is used to buy illegal drugs!”

Since this is laughably used in defense of the US Dollar, that argument cannot go uncountered by the trivial observation that “So… you’re claiming that the US Dollar isn’t?”. But we’re already seeing the arguments that were used in the copyright monopoly battle getting rehashed against the next generation of peer-to-peer technology. The exact same trigger words: organized crime, file sharing, child porn, drug trade. The trigger words that mirror the way “communism” was used in the US in the 1950. And “jazz music” before then, by the way.

Beyond bitcoin, there are technologies like Ethereum and Counterparty, which aim to make the more core services of government – incorporation, courts, arbitration – obsolete and circumvented. The old structures will not accept that development sitting down.

The entire copyright monopoly war is about to repeat. But rather than brushing it off because politicians don’t care about what’s being discussed, this time, the technology and social changes are going to be attacking the very core power of politicians head-on. This time, they will try to crush technology and its users quite deliberately, rather than out of ignorance. This time, they will hold no punches and consider no balance against rights to privacy, life, happiness, or liberty.

But this time we’re ready. This time, we have a blueprint for exactly what will happen, because the copyright monopoly wars were the tutorial missions in the game of civil liberties. To be honest, we haven’t played the tutorial very well. But we know all the adversary’s capabilities, moves, and patterns now.

The end of that development is either a Big Brother society beyond dystopian nightmares, or a society where cryptocurrency is firmly established and the copyright monopoly has also been abolished to cheers and whistles from a new, liberated generation, who have new problems to deal with instead of those that defined our grandparents’ generation.

About The Author

Rick Falkvinge is a regular columnist on TorrentFreak, sharing his thoughts every other week. He is the founder of the Swedish and first Pirate Party, a whisky aficionado, and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. His blog at falkvinge.net focuses on information policy.

Book Falkvinge as speaker?

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Liam Neeson Downloaders Face Anti-Piracy Shakedown

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

File-sharers in the United States, Germany and the UK are particularly familiar with the tactics of so-called copyright trolls. In recent years the lucrative nature of the business has attracted many companies, all out to turn piracy into profit.

Most countries have managed to avoid the attentions of these outfits, Sweden, the spiritual home of The Pirate Bay, included. However, in a surprise move the Scandinavian country has now appeared on the file-sharing lawsuit radar.

Along with Universal Pictures and Studio Canal, Check Entertainment is one of the companies behind the 2014 Liam Neeson movie, Non-Stop. According to latest figures from Box Office Mojo it has done very well, bringing in excess of $222 million on a $50 million budget.

Nevertheless, according to Dagens Media, Check Entertainment has hired lawfirm Nordic Law to go to court in Sweden to obtain the identities of individuals said to have downloaded and shared the action thriller.

The U.S.-based company has targeted subscribers of five local Internet service providers – Com Hem, Bredbandsbolaget, Banhof, Telia Sonera and Telenor – with the aim of forcing them to turn over the names and addresses of 12 of their Internet subscribers. Data on the alleged file-sharers was captured by German anti-piracy outfit Excipio.

At this point Check Entertainment says it wants to “investigate and prosecute” the subscribers for alleged copyright infringement but if cases in the rest of the world are any yardstick the aim will be a cash settlement, not a full court case.

Interestingly, one ISP from the five has indicated that its customers do not have to be concerned about possible lawsuits or shakedowns.

Service provider Banhof, a company long associated with subscriber privacy, says it is currently the only ISP in the Swedish market that does not store data on its customers’ Internet activities.

The development dates back to April when the EU Court of Justice declared the Data Retention Directive to be invalid. In response, many Swedish ISPs stopped storing data but since then most have reversed their decision to comply with apparent obligations under the Swedish Electronic Communications Act. Banhof did not, however.

This means that even if the ISP is ordered by the court to reveal which subscribers were behind a particular IP address at a certain time, it has no data so simply cannot comply.

“We have no such data. We turned off data storage on the same day that the EU judgment was handed down,” Banhof CEO Jon Karlung told Dagens Media.

While Sweden has a long tradition of file-sharing and the state regularly prosecutes large scale file-sharers, actions against regular sharers of a single title are extremely rare, ‘trolling’ even more so.

“It’s pretty rare,” Karlung says. “It has been quite a long time since it happened last.”

The big question now is whether the courts will be sympathetic to Check Entertainment’s complaint.

“We have submitted [our case] to the district court and now we want to see what the service providers say in response,” Nordic Law’s Patrick Andersson concludes.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Copyright Holders Want Pirate Bay Blocked in Sweden

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

tpb-logoThe Pirate Bay is without doubt one of the most censored websites on the Internet.

Courts all around the world have ordered Internet providers to block subscriber access to the torrent site, and this list continues to expand.

Now the music and movie industries plan to bring the blockades to Sweden, Pirate Bay’s home country. To that end, record labels Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music teamed up with Nordisk Film and the Swedish Film Industry to file a lawsuit against one of the country’s largest ISPs, B2 Broadband.

The copyright holders demand that the Internet provider blocks access to The Pirate Bay as well as streaming site Swefilmer, Dagens Media reports.

According to the lawsuit, the companies previously asked the ISP to take action against the piracy that occurs on its networks, but without result. B2 doesn’t believe that it’s responsible for the actions of its users and turned down the request.

The copyright holders disagree. In their complaint they write that the ISP is responsible for the pirating activities of its users on both The Pirate Bay and Swefilmer.

“In each case, the objective conditions are met for B2 Broadband to be deemed guilty of being complicit in the copyright infringement that’s committed,” the complaint reads.

Attorney Henrik Bengtsson is convinced that the music and movie companies have a good chance of winning the case, as similar blockades are already in place in Denmark, the UK and elsewhere.

If they indeed win the case, Bengtsson believes that they may demand similar blockades from other large ISPs in the country.

Rick Falkvinge, founder of the first Pirate Party in Sweden, is not happy with the attempt to make B2 responsible for the traffic it transmits.

“It’s neither the first time nor the last that this parasitic industry has found it easier to attack the messengers. This is why we have messenger immunity, why the mailman is never responsible for the contents of a message and the phone company not liable for what’s said in a phonecall” Falkvinge tells TF.

“The Internet must catch up to modern civil liberties standards,” he adds.

Thus far the copyright holders have not commented publicly on the lawsuit to avoid a media spectacle. “We have deliberately chosen not to push this. Neither party wants to make this media process,” Bengtsson says.

If the court sides with the copyright holders it will be the first time that a Swedish ISP has been required to block a website on copyright grounds.

Whether such a blockade will be very successful remains to be seen though, as there are plenty of alternatives and circumvention tools available. This includes VPN services, the many proxies that make up 9% of The Pirate Bay’s total traffic, and TPB’s own PirateBrowser.

Earlier this year the Dutch Pirate Bay blockade was lifted because the court deemed it disproportionate and ineffective.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder Peter Sunde Released From Prison

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

peter-sundeAfter being on the run for two years Peter Sunde, aka brokep, was arrested during a family visit in southern Sweden late May.

Despite being accused of non-violent crimes, Peter was transferred to a high-security unit. His time in prison was tough.

There was no concern for his vegan diet and he was struggling with depression. As a result Peter lost more than 15 kilograms.

“The worst thing is the boredom”, Peter said in August, summing up his daily routine. “I have soy yoghurt and muesli for breakfast, which I was recently allowed to buy from my own money, as the prison doesn’t offer any vegan food.”

Today Peter’s struggle in prison comes to an end. After more than five months he is now a free man again. A few hours ago he left prison to be reunited with his loved ones, and in a way, with himself.

“My body just got re-united with my soul and mind, the parts of me that matters and that never can be held hostage. #freebrokep #brokepfree,” he Tweets.

#brokepfree
sunde-free

Although there is no denying that Peter was physically and mentally impacted by his stay in prison, he is now truly free. No longer a fugitive, the former Pirate Bay spokesperson can travel the world again.

“Things will get easier once I get out,” Peter said previously. “I’ve been a fugitive for two years and could hardly go to conferences or would have to show up unannounced.”

Now that his sentence has come to an end, Peter will probably take some time to gain strength and spend time with friends and family.

After that, he will continue to work on his many Internet related projects including the micro-donation service Flattr and the encrypted chat application Heml.is. As always, activism remains a high priority too.

“I’m brimming with ideas and that one of my main goals will be to develop ethical ways of funding activism,” he said in August. “You often need money to change things. But most ways of acquiring it require you to compromise on your ideals. We can do better than that.”

Welcome back Peter!

Credit: clouds photo

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Swedish Police in Bangkok to Detain Pirate Bay Founder

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

After the final guilty verdicts were handed down in the historic Pirate Bay trial, Fredrik Neij decided that life in a Swedish prison wasn’t for him.

Instead, Neij flew to the Asian country of Laos where he has been enjoying family life with this wife and three children. He made no secret of his whereabouts, with Facebook updates appearing to show a relaxed man enjoying life in the capital Vientiane, a city situated on the Mekong near the border with Thailand.

Vientiane’s location appears to have played a big part in both Neij’s life and his eventual downfall. Laos is somewhat lacking in facilities so being right on the border with Thailand was convenient when Neij’s family required things such as healthcare.

However, according to Thai authorities he crossed that border 27 times in recent years and Monday was to be his unlucky day. Neij was already the subject of Swedish and Interpol warrants so when he was spotted wearing the same shirt as he was wearing in his ‘wanted’ photo, Thai border police arrested him.

After being held in custody during Monday and Tuesday, Neij is now on his way to Bangkok pending his almost certain return to Sweden. While it is being reported that Neij will be extradited, Sweden and Thailand have signed no extradition treaty. That being said, removing him is not expected to be an issue.

Local media is reporting that Thai authorities have revoked Neij’s visa, meaning that he can now be deported. Most people being removed from the country are taken to Bangkok and Neij is now confirmed as being en route to the Thai capital.

“Three Thai policemen will escort him on the flight to Bangkok and Swedish police will help us whisk him to the immigration bureau before he is handed over to Swedish authorities,” Police Colonel Panlop Suriyakul na Ayutthaya told AFP.

That Swedish authorities are in Thailand ready for Neij was confirmed by his lawyer Jonas Nilsson.

“As I understood it, staff from the Swedish embassy are on their way to where he is. [Fredrik has] also been informed that he will be transported to Sweden,” Neij’s lawyer, Jonas Nilsson told SR.

The deportation procedure is relatively straightforward and an initial investigation could be completed within 48 hours but extended for seven days and beyond if necessary. [Update: Thai authorities say Neij will be sent to Sweden “within the next month”]

If earlier plans for Neij’s incarceration in Sweden play out, on his return he will be processed and taken to Kirseberg prison in Malmö. The prison first came into operation during 1914 and has a capacity of 131 inmates and around 170 staff. According to the decision of the court, Neij is set to spend a total of 10 months inside.

neij-prison

In addition to his prison sentence, Neij is required to pay his share of roughly $6.78m in damages owed to copyright holders.

Previous investigations by Swedish authorities turned up no assets in his name but yesterday Thai authorities revealed that the Swede has a house on the island of Phuket and five million baht ($153,000) in a local bank account. Whether this is within reach of copyright holders remains to be seen.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder Fredrik Neij Arrested in Asia

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

small-fredrikFollowing the criminal convictions of Pirate Bay founders Peter Sunde, Gottfrid Svartholm and Fredrik Neij, each went their separate ways.

With Sunde in Europe and Svartholm then living in Cambodia, Neij moved to Asia to be with his Lao wife and their children.

As documented in the movie TPB:AFK, Neij and his family settled in Laos after getting married in a local ceremony. The country is one of the world’s few remaining communist states and is one of east Asia’s poorest countries with poor communications infrastructure and lacking healthcare system.

As a result, on several occasions the family has crossed the border into Thailand. That has proven problematic in the past, especially when the Swedish Embassy in Bangkok revoked Neij’s passport in 2012. Yesterday, however, things took a turn for the worse when police at the border in Nong Khai, a city in North-East Thailand, arrested Neij as he tried to drive across the border.

Early this morning Nong Khai Immigration police held a press conference to announce Neji’s arrest, parading him in front of the media flanked by several officers.

fredrik-arrest

Thai border police had executed an Interpol arrest warrant similar to the one issued against Peter Sunde before his arrest in Sweden. According to Thai authorities, Neij and his wife had crossed the border an estimated 27 times before finally being caught.

If their press conference is anything to go by, Thai authorities appear to be making a big thing of Neij’s arrest. While trumpeting the alleged damages the Pirate Bay founders have caused the entertainment industries, Thai authorities used the arrest as a photo opportunity, posing for the camera and in some cases even smiling aside a bewildered-looking Neij.

The 36-year-old’s arrest completes the full set, with all Pirate Bay founders now in custody.

Gottfrid Svartholm, whose story is particularly well known, had moved to Cambodia. He was extradited back to Sweden in 2012 to face not only his original sentence, but two major hacking trials, one on home soil and the other in Denmark. He was found guilty in the latter last week and is now serving a three-and-a-half year sentence.

Peter Sunde is also in custody, having been captured on May 31, 2014 on a farm in Skåne, Sweden. The former Pirate Bay spokesman’s time in prison has also been eventful, but is very close to coming to an end.

Breaking news story, will be updated

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Manhunt Underway For “Possibly Armed” Kinox, BitShare and FreakShare Operators

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

Just a few days ago news broke that police in Germany had carried out raids in several areas of the country.

They were looking for four suspects believed to be the key individuals behind a range of sites including Kino.to replacement Kinox.to, file-hosting sites FreakShare.com and BitShare.com, plus linking sites Boerse.sx and MyGully.com. Even streaming giant Movie4K was thrown into the mix.

While two people were arrested in Neuss and Dusseldorf, two brothers from a village near to the northern city of Lübeck evaded police and are said to be on the run. It is those two men who are now grabbing the headlines.

Police have just taken the somewhat unusual step of announcing a public manhunt for the brothers, publishing mugshots and their full names alongside details of their alleged crimes. This is something only usually carried out in exceptional and serious cases.

kinox-susp1Pictured right is Kastriot Selimi. Born in 1989, the 25-year-old was born in Kosovo and later became a German citizen.

According to police he is one of the founders of the “criminal organization” behind Kinox, FreakShare and BitShare. He also has connections to a range of other sites including stream4k.to, shared.sx, mygully.com and boerse.sx.

Kastriot Selimi’s alleged crimes include predatory blackmail, armed robbery, extortion, arson, copyright infringement and tax evasion. Police warn that he should be considered violent and could be armed.

kinox-susp2Pictured right is Kreshnik Selimi. Born in 1992, the 21-year-old was born in Sweden and later became a German citizen. He is the younger brother of Kastriot.

Kreshnik is accused of founding and operating the same sites as his sibling and is covered by the same international arrest warrant. He is being classified as violent and police are warning the public that he too could be armed.

Kreshnik Selimi’s alleged crimes include predatory blackmail, armed robbery, extortion, arson, copyright infringement and tax evasion.

According to information received by German publication Spiegel, the arson and extortion charges relate to alleged crimes carried out by the brothers against one of their former or even current business partners.

A spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office earlier revealed that the brothers had “made great efforts” to get rid of their competitors in the piracy market. “Sometimes even a car burst into flames,” he said.

According to the Attorney General’s office the brothers have evaded 1.3 million euros in taxes, which suggests that overall revenues were in excess of 6.5 million euros. Even if that amount is overblown, it seems likely that the pair have considerable resources at their disposal.

The brothers’ whereabouts aside, the big mystery is why the sites named above are still in operation. All remain online, despite their alleged operators being subjected to an international manhunt.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

Raspberry Pi: Moving pictures

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: Liz Upton. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

Earlier this year, we blogged about a shampoo ad that was running in the Swedish subway. A Pi hooked up to a motion sensor triggered a video effect on a billboard, so the model’s hair blew around in what looked like a response to the wind created every time a train came into the station.

Swedish ad agency Garberg have done something similar to that original project – but this time something’s different (and all their work on this ad has been pro bono). This has become the most-viewed video in Sweden this week, and it brought us all up short. We think it’ll have the same effect on you.

TorrentFreak: Alleged Topsite Operator Charged With Mass Movie Piracy

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

pirate-cardAfter becoming almost synonymous with file-sharing and its connections with The Pirate Bay, Sweden began escalating its efforts to stamp out online piracy.

As a result, during the past several years many file-sharers were targeted by anti-piracy groups looking to send a message to the masses. And with government providing additional funding, increasingly police became involved in joint operations.

After a period of dealing with smaller cases, Swedish police have just charged a man for illegally making available large amounts of copyrighted material. According to their intellectual property division, the suspect “intentionally or by gross negligence” unlawfully made films available on 2,250 occasions.

The police add that the individual acted “in consultation or concert with other persons, supplied, installed, programmed, maintained, funded and otherwise administered and managed” the file-sharing network from where the infringements were carried out.

The charges are the result of an investigation initially carried out by Rights Alliance, the anti-piracy group previously known as Antipiratbyran. It’s been revealed they’re representing six major studios in the case, so the usual Hollywood giants will be directly involved.

Few additional details have been made public but after contacting lawyer Henrik Pontén at Rights Alliance, TorrentFreak has learned that the charges relate to a raid carried out in 2010 against “The Scene”, the collection of servers and individuals which inhabit the top of the so-called piracy pyramid.

The case involves a so-called ‘topsite’ known as ‘Devil’ which at the time was claimed to carry between 200 and 250 terabytes of media. During the raid, which according to Scene sources took place December 15, 2010, police seized a dozen servers and detained one person.

In press releases following the police action it was claimed that the man was responsible for the unauthorized distribution of “tens of thousands” of mainly Hollywood movies. Those estimates appear to have been rounded down.

An element of the case that remains a mystery for now surrounds the prosecution’s current claims that the man made the movies available “to the public”. Topsites tend not to deliberately distribute movies outside of their immediate circles for security reasons.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Witness Offered $3.50/Hr to Testify Against Pirate Bay Founder

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

Alleged “super hacker” Gottfrid Svartholm is currently being held in a Danish prison on suspicion of hacking into the computers of IT company CSC.

After being extradited to Denmark from Sweden in 2013, next month he will go to trial.

In recent weeks Danish authorities have been attempting to round up witnesses to ensure they attend the Frederiksberg court during September. It’s unclear how many there are, but TorrentFreak has learned at least one won’t be attending.

John, who has asked us not to use his real name, is a former colleague of Gottfrid who lives and works in Cambodia. TorrentFreak previously confirmed his identity and the fact that he and Gottfrid did business together. In April he received a surprise telephone call which led to an unsettling series of events involving Danish police.

Several months later and John is again being put under pressure. Following suspicions he was being watched, John received an anonymous tipoff that he had been placed on the prosecution’s witness list against Gottfrid. Sure enough, on Wednesday Jens Jorgensen from the Danish police, one of the people who traveled to Cambodia to question John, telephoned John to register him as a witness.

John and Jorgensen then exchanged emails in which the former expressed bemusement at why the prosecution would want to use his evidence when it actually supports the position of Gottfrid Svartholm.

“I fail to see how anything I previously said to you could be used in this case against [Gottfrid]. As I told you, lots of people had access to [Gottfrid’s] computer,” John wrote.

“Why on earth would you want me to testify against him when you know full well that I don’t believe he committed this crime based on what little information I have?”

In his early days of detention Gottfrid was kept in solitary confinement, something which enraged Wikileaks’ Julian Assange and prompted complaints from Gottfrid’s mother Kristina to Amnesty. This treatment is also a big issue with John.

“Gottfrid’s previous prolonged, extrajudicial solitary confinement in your country very clearly meets the United Nations definition of torture, and I find it utterly troubling,” John told Jorgensen.

“With that in mind, I am deeply concerned about the prospect of being a part of something that is so clearly unethical if not outright illegal. Is there some sort of legal equivalent of being a conscientious objector to trials? If so, I would consider myself a conscientious objector to this one, the whole thing disgusts me whether he committed the crime or not.”

Clearly, traveling half way around the world to assist the prosecution in a high profile trial against someone you believe is innocent is problematic enough, but John also has serious concerns about the legal issues involved.

“Will I be offered access to a lawyer at any point during all of this? he asked Jorgensen.

“So far I’ve been threatened with force by a man claiming to be a Swedish policeman, made to answer a bunch of questions, and now I’m being asked to make a decision about legal matters. I’d really like access to a lawyer so I can make informed decisions about this, but I can’t afford one as I got fired from my job the day after you came to see me.”

In addition to visiting John, Danish police also visited John’s employer when they visited Cambodia earlier this year. He was fired less than 24 hours later but was fortunate to find new employment.

In his response, Jorgensen confirmed that attending the trial is a voluntary act and no one will force John to attend. He also informed John that if he needs legal advice, he’ll have to pay for it himself. Nevertheless, the summons was issued.

The summons states that traveling expenses will be reimbursed and if necessary John will be provided with a hotel room in Denmark. He is also offered DKK 40 for every two hours he’s away from home or work – that’s roughly $3.50 per hour. If that isn’t enough the police say that more money may be available, but in John’s case that probably won’t be needed.

“I respectfully refuse your invitation and can confirm that I have no intention of appearing in court, at least until you clarify your motives for requesting me to do so, and until you provide access to appropriate legal advice so that I can make an informed decision,” John concludes.

A copy of the summons can be found below – note that while Gottfrid Svartholm is accused of only “white collar” offenses, the contact address is the Public Prosecutor’s Department of Violent Crime.

witness

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder Peter Sunde Shouldn’t Be in Jail, MEP Says

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

peter-sundeMore than two months have passed since former Pirate Bay spokesman and co-founder Peter Sunde was arrested on a farm in Sweden by a specialist police unit.

Sunde was transferred to Västervik Norra, the high security prison facility where he is serving the eight-month jail sentence that was handed down in 2012.

Despite the sentencing Sunde has always maintained his innocence. He utilized all legal means at his disposal to fight back, and emphasized that his role in The Pirate Bay didn’t warrant being branded a criminal.

This view is shared by many people including Julia Reda, the new Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the Pirate Party. Reda will be visiting Sunde in prison later today to send her support, and points out that he shouldn’t be there in the first place.

“I am visiting Peter Sunde in prison today to express my support. The unnecessarily harsh sentence he was given illustrates that our justice system has completely lost touch with digital culture,” Reda says.

“The tactic of draconian deterrence against file sharing has failed!” she adds.

During her visit the MEP also plans to ask Sunde about his conditions. The Pirate Bay founder previously requested a transfer to a lower security facility as he was losing weight and coping with psychological issues due to his circumstances.

Sunde’s sentencing is a result of a failed witch hunt against online piracy, Reda argues. Instead of embracing those who explore new technologies and business models, authorities have wrongly opted to crack down on people such as Sunde.

The MEP believes that the focus should be on deterrence, with authorities doing more to encourage and assist content creators to develop business models that can compete with piracy.

Reda notes that several founders of file-sharing services have become successful entrepreneurs. The developers behind Kazaa later brought Skype and Rdio, and Napster’s Sean Parker served as the first president of Facebook.

Sunde is also a digital pioneer, and actively involved in several startups including the micro-donation service Flattr and the encrypted chat application Heml.is. His contributions to these projects have been halted now, which is not the right way to go according to the MEP.

“I am saddened by the fact that Sweden has chosen to jail this digital pioneer in an attempt to make an example of him,” she says.

We hope to have more details of the MEP’s visit and Sunde’s outlook on the future later this week.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Hollywood Director: Abusing Staff Can Lead to Movie Leaks

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

lexiIt’s pretty obvious that Lexi Alexander isn’t scared of rocking the boat. In an unprecedented move last month, the movie director was pictured holding up a sign calling for the release of Peter Sunde, an individual not exactly the movie industry’s most-loved man.

But Alexander is no ordinary person or director. Instead of towing the usual line by decrying piracy as a scourge, the 39-year-old recently noted that several studies have found that piracy has actually benefited movie profits. For a movie worker this is a controversial stance to take, but rather than back off, Alexander only seems motivated to continue her abrasive approach.

In new comments Alexander takes aim at Hollywood, this time referencing the recent leak of The Expendables 3. She doesn’t condone the leak, but instead looks at possible reasons why it ended up online.

“The piracy issue makes me want to tear my hair out at times. I do not understand how so many of my filmmaker colleagues have bought into this MPAA propaganda. Recently these think tanks and organizations have popped up which are not officially associated with the MPAA, but definitely on their payroll,” Alexander begins.

“But okay, you want to be mad at the kid in Sweden or Australia for uploading your movie? Go for it. Oh wait, in cases like Expendables 3 it’s actually someone here in Hollywood leaking it,” she notes.

The idea that The Expendables 3 leaked directly from Hollywood is not new. Pristine copies like these simply aren’t available on the streets unless an insider has had a hand in it somehow, whether that interaction was intentional or otherwise.

In some instances the motivation to leak, Alexander suggests, could be borne out of a desire to get even. Assistants to the higher-ups are often treated badly, so more consideration should be given to what they might do in return, the director notes.

“It’s kind of like going to a restaurant and thinking twice about insulting the waiter or busboy because you’re afraid of what they’ll put in the food before they bring it back,” Alexander explains.

“Imagine those famously abusive directors, producers or stars (#notall….) having to tone down the abuse, otherwise LOUD EVENT MOVIE # 5 will show up on The Pirate Bay with a little note that says: ‘Don’t bother seeing this in the theater. Everybody above the line was a monster to us’.”

The thought that leaks might happen as a type of personal revenge is in itself the stuff of a Hollywood plot. However, just as it’s unlikely that a story about a movie leak would ever make the silver screen, Hollywood insiders involved in them also tend to escape criticism.

In fact, history shows us that the *actual* leakers, whether that’s an assistant with a grudge or otherwise, are rarely – if ever – paraded around in public as criminals. That honor is usually reserved for the first uploaders and/or their ‘pirate’ allies. Still, Alexander feels it would be wise to keep those close to home in a good frame of mind.

“Maybe the MPAA should drop some of their $$ on PSAs about the danger of abusing assistants: ‘If you kick me everyday, your film will land on Pirate Bay’,” she warns.

Finally, in a move likely to further annoy the Hollywood brass, Alexander presents a “hypothetical” mechanism through which abused assistants could beat the bullies.

“I’m not suggesting anything, but hypothetically, if there were an anonymous address people could send not-yet-released movie DVDs to, so someone else could upload them without a chance of it being backtracked to the source, then a whole bunch of abused and mistreated assistants wouldn’t be defenseless anymore,” she concludes.

Due to the hugely controversial nature of her comments its difficult to judge how serious Alexander is with her suggestions. But, whatever the case, it’s safe to say that she’s one of a kind and likely to continue rocking the boat in future.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: The Copyright Monopoly Should Be Dead And Buried Already

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Rick Falkvinge. Original post: at TorrentFreak

copyright-brandedEvery time somebody questions the copyright monopoly, and in particular, whether it’s reasonable to dismantle freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of information, and the privacy of correspondence just to maintain a distribution monopoly for an entertainment industry, the same question pops up out of nowhere:

“How will the artists get paid?”.

The copyright industry has been absolutely phenomenal in misleading the public in this very simple matter, suggesting that artists’ income somehow depend on a distribution monopoly of publishers. If the facts were out, this debate would have been over 20 years ago and the distribution monopoly already abolished quite unceremoniously.

There are three facts that need to be established and hammered in whenever somebody asks this question.

First: Less than one percent of artists’ income comes from the copyright monopoly. Read that sentence again. The overwhelming majority of artists get their income today from student loans, day jobs, unemployment benefits, and so on and so forth. One of the most recent studies (“Copyright as Incentive”, in Swedish as “Upphovsrätten som incitament”, 2006) quotes a number of 0.9 per cent as the average income share of artists that can be directly attributed to the existence of the copyright monopoly. The report calls the direct share of artists’ income “negligible”, “insignificant”. However, close to one hundred per cent of publishers’ income – the income of unnecessary, parasitic middlemen – is directly attributable to the copyright monopoly today. Guess who’s adamant about defending it? Hint: not artists.

Second: 99.99% of artists never see a cent in copyright monopoly royalties. Apart from the copyright industry’s creative accounting and bookkeeping – arguably the only reason they ever had to call themselves the “creative industry” – which usually robs artists blind, only one in ten thousand artists ever see a cent in copyright-monopoly-related royalties. Yes, this is a real number: 99% of artists are never signed with a label, and of those who are, 99% of those never see royalties. It comes across as patently absurd to defend a monopolistic, parasitic system where only one in ten thousand artists make any money with the argument “how will the artists make money any other way?”.

Third: Artists’ income has more than doubled because of culture-sharing. Since the advent of hobby-scale unlicensed manufacturing – which is what culture-sharing is legally, since it breaks a manufacturing monopoly on copies – the average income for musicians has risen 114%, according to a Norwegian study. Numbers from Sweden and the UK show the same thing. This shift in income has a direct correlation to hobby-based unlicensed manufacturing, as the sales of copies is down the drain – which is the best news imaginable for artists, since households are spending as much money on culture before (or more, according to some studies), but are buying in sales channels where artists get a much larger piece of the pie. Hobby-based unlicensed manufacturing has meant the greatest wealth transfer from parasitic middlemen to artists in the history of recorded music.

As a final note, it should be told that even if artists went bankrupt because of sustained civil liberties, that would still be the way to go. Any artist that goes from plinking their guitar in the kitchen to wanting to sell an offering is no longer an artist, but an entrepreneur; the same rules apply to them as to every other entrepreneur on the planet. Specifically, they do not get to dismantle civil liberties because such liberties are bad for business. But as we see, we don’t even need to take that into consideration, for the entire initial premise is false.

Kill copyright, already. Get rid of it. It hurts innovation, creativity, our next-generation industries, and our hard-won civil liberties. It’s not even economically defensible.

About The Author

Rick Falkvinge is a regular columnist on TorrentFreak, sharing his thoughts every other week. He is the founder of the Swedish and first Pirate Party, a whisky aficionado, and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. His blog at falkvinge.net focuses on information policy.

Book Falkvinge as speaker?

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder’s Religious Rights Spark New Complaint

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

It’s been almost two months since former Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde was located on a farm in Sweden and spirited away by a specialist police unit.

Sunde’s destination was Västervik Norra, the prison allocated to him following the finalizing of his jail sentence in 2012.

The first few days and weeks of Sunde’s imprisonment went silently under the media radar, but by the end of June the former Pirate Bay spokesman was making his voice heard on his prison conditions.

Sunde has been both vegetarian and vegan, a dietary choice that has proven difficult during his incarceration. In a letter to authorities he complained that due to his needs not being met, his weight had plummeted 11 pounds (5kgs) in just four weeks.

It’s not clear whether that complaint resulted in any positive action, but just a month later Sunde is making his displeasure known once more, this time over his religious rights.

Four years ago a group of self-confessed pirates began a mission to have their beliefs recognized as a religion in Sweden. The Church of Kopimism – which holds CTRL+C and CTRL+V as sacred symbols – eventually prevailed and in 2012 was officially approved by the authorities.

Kopimi

Just recently Sunde tried to exercise his right to meet with a representative of his chosen religion, but was met with prison red tape in response.

“The board of spiritual care (NAV) doesn’t have any representative for the Kopimist faith with whom they cooperate and therefore the Prison and Probation Service should provide permission for electronic contact with representatives from the Kopimist faith to believers,” Sunde wrote in his letter to authorities.

Whether this complaint will result in physical or even virtual access to a Kopimist priest is not yet clear. However, since Kopimism is an official religion, the authorities may have little choice but to comply. This throws up an interesting privacy-related question that Sunde himself mused over some two-and-a-half years ago.

“In some religions…there’s a Seal of Confession – which means that when you talk to a priest in the congregation, the priest has to keep what you say confidential. This is respected in some countries as law, where the courts can not make the priest testify against the individual,” Sunde said in 2012.

“This is probably the thing that I love the most with Kopimism as a religion – we can have yet another form of P2P communication – Priest2Priest. With no legal right for anyone to listen in to the conversation perhaps.”

It seems highly unlikely that Sunde will be allowed an online “encrypted confession” with a Kopimism “priest” anytime soon, but The Church of Kopimism’s legal status could throw up some headaches and dilemmas for the authorities as they try to process Peter’s complaint.

Not that he intended that, of course.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Requests Support For Its Imprisoned Founders

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

tpb-logoPretty much every weekend The Pirate Bay replaces its logo to plug a band, game developer or filmmaker. This is part of the Promo Bay initiative through which TPB supports independent artists.

At the start of this weekend the torrent site decided to feature something a little more personal. The site currently displays a banner asking visitors to send their support to two of the site’s original founders.

Gottfrid Svartholm and Peter Sunde are both in prison at the moment and could use an uplifting note or two, the message suggests.

“Show your support by sending them some encouraging mail! Gottfrid is only allowed to receive letters while Peter gladly received books, letter and vegan candy,” the TPB team writes.

Pirate Bay homepage
tpbhome

Peter Sunde is serving the sentence he received for his involvement with The Pirate Bay. He’s being held in a high security prison in Västervik and recently requested a transfer to a lower safety class unit.

Gottfrid Svartholm has already served his Pirate Bay sentence but currently stands accused in Denmark of hacking into the mainframe computers of IT company CSC. He faces up to five years in prison and his trial will start in two months.

When Gottfrid served his Pirate Bay sentence in Sweden he also received numerous letters and cards. He later sent a video out to thank everyone for the support he received.

“I would like to thank everyone who has supported me in any way, very much, it has meant a lot to me,” Gottfrid said at the time.

“I don’t have the time or the possibility to answer many of the letters but you should know that I read each and every one of them and it has really helped me a lot.”

For those who can’t read the image above, the addresses for Gottfrid and Peter are as follows.

Gottfrid Svartholm Warg
c/o Jens H. Jorgensen
Politigarden, 1567, Copenhagen
Denmark

Peter Sunde
Box 248
593 23 Västervik
Sweden

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Young Swedes Who Never File-Share Up By 40%

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

piracydownSweden has long been a central figure in the file-sharing phenomenon, not least due to its associations with the The Pirate Bay. As a result, for more than ten years sharing files has been a popular pastime with many young Swedes, much to the disappointment of the world’s largest entertainment companies.

The Cybernorms research group at Lund University in Sweden has been in the news several times during the past few years as a result of its work with The Pirate Bay. On more than one occasion the infamous torrent site as renamed itself to The Research Bay in order for researchers to collect information on the values, norms and conceptions of the file-sharing community.

Cybernorms have now revealed more of their findings which suggest that after years of escalation, online sharing by those in the 15-24 year-old bracket could be in decline.

Survey responses from around 4,000 individuals suggest that the number of active file-sharers has dropped in the past two years. Those who share files daily or almost daily has decreased from 32.8 percent in 2012 to 29 percent in 2014.

“It is a small but significant decrease,” Måns Svensson, head of Cybernorms at Lund University told SVT.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the decrease is the mechanism through which it was encouraged. Historically, entertainment industry scare tactics have been employed to try to reduce unauthorized sharing, but the researchers believe something much more positive is responsible.

“What is interesting is that this is the first time we have been able to see that file-sharing has gone down but without that being associated with a conviction, such as the Pirate Bay ruling,” Svensson says.

“If you listen to what young people themselves are saying, it is new and better legal services that have caused the decrease in file-sharing, rather than respect for the law. There has been a trend where alternative legal solutions such as Spotify and Netflix are changing consumption patterns among young people.”

Also of interest is the apparent effect on up-and-coming youngsters who might otherwise have begun file-sharing themselves. The researchers found that between 2009 and 2013 the percentage of young people who never share files illegally increased from 21.6 percent to 30.2 percent, a boost of well over a third.

Interestingly, in that same four-year period, the percentage of young people who said they believe that people should not share files because it is illegal dropped from 24 percent to 16.9 percent. So, even while young people are sharing files less often, their acceptance of the standards presented by the law appears to be dropping too.

In this case it does indeed appear that the carrot is mightier than the stick.

Image credit

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Co-Founder Peter Sunde Arrested in Sweden

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

peter-sundeFormer Pirate Bay spokesman and co-founder Peter Sunde was arrested today in a rural area near Malmö, Sweden.

Sunde was wanted by Interpol for more than two years, ever since the sentence for his role in the Pirate Bay website was made final.

He has been living in Berlin for quite some time, but still had family ties in Sweden, which he visited occasionally.

Earlier today, a special Swedish police unit tasked with tracking down criminal fugitives carried out a raid at a farm in Skåne. Local law enforcement reportedly worked in collaboration with the Polish police.

While details are scarce at the moment, the Swedish newspaper Expressen reports that the arrest has been confirmed by the Swedish authorities.

According to Peter Althin, Sunde’s lawyer, the news means that his client will most likely be sent to prison to serve his 8-month sentence.

Sunde’s prison sentence was made final in 2012 after Sweden’s Supreme Court announced its decision not to grant leave to appeal in the long-running criminal case against the founders of The Pirate Bay.

However, Sunde decided not to give up without a fight. First he submitted his case to the European Court of Human Rights (EHCR), and after that was rejected he tried again at the Swedish Supreme Court this year, which rejected the request earlier this month.

Thus far only Gottfrid Svartholm and Carl Lundström has completed their prison sentences. The fourth defendant, Fredrik Neij remains a fugitive and currently resides in Asia.

Interestingly, today’s arrest comes exactly eight years after The Pirate Bay servers were raided, which marked the start of the criminal prosecution of the four people connected to the site.

Despite his fugitive status Sunde has made several public appearances in recent years. He was also involved in various tech-startups, including the micro-donation service Flattr and the NSA-proof messenger app Heml.is, for which he raised more than $150,000 through a crowd-funding campaign.

Sunde also ran for European Parliament last weekend for the Finnish Pirate Party. While he received the most votes of all the Pirate candidates, it was not enough for a seat in Brussels.

More info on the arrest and Sunde’s future is likely to follow in the days to come.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Spotify: We Make Revenue From Pirates Who Never Pay

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

In the continuing piracy debate one thing has been established beyond reasonable doubt. If an entertainment producer wants to make any dent in piracy, at the very least they’re going to have to make their products readily available at a fair price.

This argument has gathered serious momentum in Australia during the past few years, with local consumers regularly criticizing international TV and movie companies for shipping products Down Under months after release and then charging unrealistic prices.

But in a recent opinion piece, the principal analyst at local music royalty collection outfit APRA AMCOS disputed whether the arrival of services like Spotify that give consumers what they want, have actually done anything to reduce piracy rates.

“Music’s had everything everybody now wants for television shows, such as Game of Thrones, for a couple of years: availability, access and a reasonable price. But the piracy issue still has not been solved,” Andrew Harris wrote.

“In fact, results last month from our ongoing national research show that music piracy levels – just as they were almost two years ago – still sit at around the same level as that of movies and television shows.”

Noting that Spotify offers content in Australia at the moment it’s released around the world and does so at one of the best prices, Harris arrives at a familiar conclusion.

“We’ve heard it all before. No matter how loud the minority might shout it in anger as the answer, it’s impossible to compete with free.”

Unsurprisingly that notion doesn’t sit well with Spotify, a company that was designed from the ground up to compete with piracy.

Responding to Harris’s assertions in Australian Financial Review, Spotify Australia and New Zealand chief Kate Vale said that the company’s experiences told a different story.

“We do believe that access, availability and price does contribute and is the answer and we have proven this in other markets across Europe and particularly in Sweden where we have seen a 30 per cent reduction in piracy since we launched about six years ago,” Vale said.

Cracking Sweden was undoubtedly a major feat given the country’s long association with Internet piracy and Vale believes that Spotify now has the right formula to attract the most aggressive file-sharers – and make money from them.

“If you look at the main audience that is on Spotify, a lot of them are former pirates. There are teenagers who have potentially never paid for their music before, and probably never will,” she said.

“If we can get them on to a service that is free but legal, and they are contributing through our advertising on that free tier, then it is giving money back into the industry that they are just never going to get before.”

The ad-supported tier of Spotify is undoubtedly a great incentive to get people to try the service. Globally the company says that it converts around a quarter of free users to premium subscribers but Australia actually tops that with 31%, suggesting that Aussies are happier than most to part with their hard-earned cash in exchange for a good product.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

Schneier on Security: The Economics of Bulk Surveillance

This post was syndicated from: Schneier on Security and was written by: schneier. Original post: at Schneier on Security

Ross Anderson has an important new paper on the economics that drive government-on-population bulk surveillance:

My first big point is that all the three factors which lead to monopoly – network effects, low marginal costs and technical lock-in – are present and growing in the national-intelligence nexus itself. The Snowden papers show that neutrals like Sweden and India are heavily involved in information sharing with the NSA, even though they have tried for years to pretend otherwise. A non-aligned country such as India used to be happy to buy warplanes from Russia; nowadays it still does, but it shares intelligence with the NSA rather then the FSB. If you have a choice of joining a big spy network like America’s or a small one like Russia’s then it’s like choosing whether to write software for the PC or the Mac back in the 1990s. It may be partly an ideological choice, but the economics can often be stronger than the ideology.

Second, modern warfare, like the software industry, has seen the bulk of its costs turn from variable costs into fixed costs. In medieval times, warfare was almost entirely a matter of manpower, and society was organised appropriately; as well as rent or produce, tenants owed their feudal lord forty days’ service in peacetime, and sixty days during a war. Barons held their land from the king in return for an oath of fealty, and a duty to provide a certain size of force on demand; priests and scholars paid a tax in lieu of service, so that a mercenary could be hired in their place. But advancing technology brought steady industrialisation. When the UK and the USA attacked Germany in 1944, we did not send millions of men to Europe, as in the first world war, but a combat force of a couple of hundred thousand troops – though with thousands of tanks and backed by larger numbers of men in support roles in tens of thousands of aircraft and ships. Nowadays the transition from labour to capital has gone still further: to kill a foreign leader, we could get a drone fire a missile that costs $30,000. But that’s backed by colossal investment – the firms whose data are tapped by PRISM have a combined market capitalisation of over $1 trillion.

Third is the technical lock-in, which operates at a number of levels. First, there are lock-in effects in the underlying industries, where (for example) Cisco dominates the router market: those countries that have tried to build US-free information infrastructures (China) or even just government information infrastructures (Russia, Germany) find it’s expensive. China went to the trouble of sponsoring an indigenous vendor, Huawei, but it’s unclear how much separation that buys them because of the common code shared by router vendors: a vulnerability discovered in one firm’s products may affect another. Thus the UK government lets BT buy Huawei routers for all but its network’s most sensitive parts (the backbone and the lawful-intercept functions). Second, technical lock-in affects the equipment used by the intelligence agencies themselves, and is in fact promoted by the agencies via ETSI standards for functions such as lawful intercept.

Just as these three factors led to the IBM network dominating the mainframe age, the Intel/Microsoft network dominating the PC age, and Facebook dominating the social networking scene, so they push strongly towards global surveillance becoming a single connected ecosystem.

These are important considerations when trying to design national policies around surveillance.

Ross’s blog post.

TorrentFreak: Supreme Court Rejects Application of Pirate Bay’s Peter Sunde

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

peter-sundeIn 2012 Sweden’s Supreme Court announced its decision not to grant leave to appeal in the long-running criminal case against the founders of The Pirate Bay.

This meant that the previously determined jail sentences and fines handed out to Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm and Carl Lundström would stand.

Both Svartholm and Lundström have completed their jail sentences, but Peter Sunde decided not to give up without a fight. First he submitted his case to the European Court of Human Rights (EHCR), and after that was rejected he tried again at the Swedish Supreme Court this year.

A childhood friend of Sunde took on the case as part of his legal training, helped by several law professors. Despite an earlier rejection by the Supreme Court, the legal team believed that there was a good chance the case would be re-opened based on recent EU rulings and regulations.

Today, however, the Supreme Court announced that it will not re-open the case. According to Swedish Radio the Court ruled that there is no new information that requires them to revisit their earlier decision.

TorrentFreak spoke to Peter Sunde, who isn’t really surprised by the outcome. His friend felt that justice would be served, but he never got his hopes up too high.

“It doesn’t affect me that much, it’s just more evidence that Sweden has no intention to follow the law or EU-regulations at all,” Sunde said.

Sunde will now continue working on several of his startups, including the NSA-proof messenger app Heml.is, for which he raised more than $150,000 through a crowd-funding campaign.

In addition, Sunde is also one of the Finnish Pirate Party candidates for the European Parliament elections later this week. If he is elected, Sunde hopes to do something about the negative effects of copyright law in Europe, something he is personally familiar with.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: How Sweden Gained Access to a Canada-Hosted Torrent Site

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

Earlier this week tips coming into TorrentFreak suggested that a relatively small torrent site known as Sparvar had come under the scrutiny of the police. Sure enough, the site subsequently went offline.

Problems had been building for more than two years. Swedish anti-piracy group Rights Alliance (Antipiratbyran) had built up an interest in Sparvar, a site directed at a largely Swedish audience. In early 2012 following action against a private site known as Swepiracy, Rights Alliance warned that Sparvar was on their list of targets.

Until this week, however, Sparvar had been hosted in Canada with Montreal-based Netelligent Hosting Services. For some time it had been presumed that hosting a torrent site is Canada is legal, a notion that was recently backed up by Netelligent president Mohamed Salamé.

“[As] long as there are no violations of our [acceptable use policy], we take no actions against torrent sites which are still legal in Canada,” Salamé told TF.

Nevertheless, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) still took action against Sparvar. How did this come to pass?

A source familiar with the case who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity told TorrentFreak that Netelligent was served with a data preservation order by the RCMP who were working together with authorities in Sweden.

In the first instance Netelligent were gagged from informing their client about the investigation, presumably so that no data could be tampered with. Netelligent was then sent a hard drive by the RCMP for the purposes of making a copy of the Sparvar server. This was to be handed over to their authorities.

We’re led to believe that Netelligent put up a fight to protect their customer’s privacy but in the end they were left with no choice but to comply with the orders. And here’s why.

MLAT, or Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty agreements, enable countries to gather, share and exchange information in order to enforce the law. Since 2001, Canada has had an MLAT with Sweden and since there was a criminal investigation underway in Sweden against Sparvar, Canada and Netelligent were legally obligated to provide assistance in the case.

So what does this mean for other sites hosted in Canada? Well, according to our source anyone running a site should be aware of the countries that Canada has MLAT agreements with, just in case another country decides to launch a case.

Those countries can be found here but they include everyone from the United States to Australia, from China to Russia, and many countries across Europe including the UK, Netherlands, Spain, Poland, France and Italy.

Finally, our source informs us that while cooperation in criminal cases has obviously been requested before, to the extent of his knowledge this is the first time that a torrent site has been a target.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: These Pirate Parties Plan to Enter The European Parliament

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ben Jones. Original post: at TorrentFreak

Where you can vote pirate (click to open map)
Where you can vote pirate (click to open map)

In roughly two weeks time, people all over the European Union will be going to the polls to elect the next European Parliament. Five years ago, the Swedish Pirate Party had a substantial victory with over 7% of the vote, and while the German Pirates didn’t get a seat, they did claim over two hundred thousand votes.

Now, five years later, more Pirate parties are now in a position to contest the election.

Today we provide a quick run-down of the Pirate candidates in the various countries, sorted by incumbency and seat apportionment (Note: many links are to non-English language websites)

Sweden (20 seats)

The only country with incumbent MEPs, the order of Sweden’s two main candidates is unchanged from 2009, with Christian Engstrom first, followed by Amelia Andersdotter. Amelia, the youngest ever MEP when she was elected, is also one of the candidates for the EU commission presidency.

Christian told TorrentFreak: “The struggle to protect freedom on the Internet will continue, from defending net neutrality to fighting against mass surveillance. We must explain to the politicians from the older parties that the Internet is not a toy, and that we must defend our fundamental rights as vigorously in the online world as in the offline.”

The full list of candidates competing for the 20 seats is available here.

Germany (96)

Competing alongside Sweden in 2009, Germany also has the most seats of any country, with 96 up for grabs. While they didn’t quite hit 1% last time, they’ve been doing well in various regional elections for the last year or two, and they’re hardly a new ‘unelectable’ party either, with 250 seats at various state and local governments. The 5% election threshold was ruled unconstitutional in 2011 and a proposed value of 3% was also struck down a few months ago, meaning that just over 1% of the votes are needed to start winning seats, well within their grasp.

“Our vision for Europe,” lead candidate Julia Reda told TF, “is based on the Internet: on sharing, collaboration and a community of peers. We need Pirates in the European Parliament to reform copyright and enable the sharing of culture and knowledge across national borders.”

France (74, contesting 56)

France is one of a select few countries that use a regional constituency system, rather than a national list. The French Pirate Party is running 13 candidates in the North west, 20 in the south west region, 26 in the South East, 10 in Centre, 30 in Ile-de France (which includes Paris) and 9  for the overseas territories of France.

Interestingly, there are at least twice as many candidates on each regions list than there are seats available, meaning that at least half the pirates are never going to be elected no matter how well they do.

United Kingdom (73, contesting 8)

Like France, Poland and Italy, the UK is also split into several constituencies, with the UK Pirate Party only contesting one, their headquarters region of  North West England. They’re focusing on this area after having had some success in local elections in the recent past, beating, or equaling the coalition-government party candidates. In keeping with the open nature of the party, they’re also raising money for the election via crowdfunding platform Pozible.

Candidate Jack Alnutt is firm on why people should vote Pirate. “The European Union needs more transparent and open governance, more democratic involvement with increased powers for the Parliament and better protection of our fundamental rights. The only way to make this happen is to vote Pirate in May.”

Spain (54)

The situation in Spain is more complex than normal. There have been two competing pirate groups for a while, Partido Pirata – the national party formed in 2006 which covered the whole of Spain – and a group of regional parties that have now banded together under the banner Confederacion Pirata. It’s this latter group that is running candidates nationally.

Their list of 50 candidates is headed by Dario Castañé from Barcelona, a 29-year-old computer engineer who describes politics as “a passion of mine”.  With seats being awarded on just 2.5% of the vote last year, they have a strong chance of getting at least one Pirate into the European Parliament.

Poland (51, contesting 16)

Poland is another constitution-based system. Here only 6 pirates are running for election, but they’re also running in a coalition, with the Direct Democracy party, the Libertarian Party, and a number of independent candidates.

Four of these are going to compete for the 4 seats in Łódź [district 6] (spots 1, 3, 4, and 5), with the other two pirates on the ballot in the Silesian area [district 11] to the south (second on the list), and Lublin [district 8] to the east (fourth on the list).

Netherlands (26)

The ten Pirates contesting the Dutch seats are led by scientist Matthijs Pontier. They recently celebrated the first elected Pirate to the Board committee of Amsterdam West with 3.6%, and fell just short of other seats in the Amsterdam South committee (3.5%) and city council (1.8%)

With no threshold to win seats, getting a seat is not outside the realms of possibility for them, especially if they can keep the momentum going.

Czech Republic (21)

The 21 seats in the Czech Republic will be contended by a full spread of Pirates. Leading the list is 34-year old Dr Ivan Bartos, Ph.D, an expert in database systems and part-time musician.

Current polls have them running a little short of their target to get a seat, but as with the Swedish party five years ago, they’ve a strong youth following which may be underrepresented in the polling. This gave them a ‘win’ in a student mock EU election with 19.2% of the vote from the 25,000+ students aged 15 and older polled. Worst case, that’s another few thousand votes next time.

Greece (21)

In Greece, the Pirate-Green cooperation that has existed in the European Parliament has continued, with a coalition list comprising candidates of both the Greek Pirate Party, and the Ecologist Greens party, along with several independent candidates.

In 2009, the Ecologist Greens won one seat with 3.9% of the vote. What impact the Pirates will have on any Green candidates is unknown, but with a formal alliance, it’s certainly expected that there will be some.

Austria (18)

Another party in an alliance, this time though, the coalition of three parties, all without national-level representation, as well as a few independents. Instead of a coalition with the Greens, as in Greece, the Austrian Pirates have instead joined forces with the Communist Party and the Change party to form the group ‘Europe Anders”.

The list is headed by current MEP Martin Ehrenhauser (elected on a pirate-like anti-corruption and pro-transparency platform via the “Hans-Peter Martin’s list” in 2009) with the first Pirate in fourth. There is a 4% threshold.

Finland (13)

Finland uses a non-preferential list, meaning that (as we understand it) you vote for candidates, which also count for the party. The party is allocated seats based on the votes for all its candidates, and party fills those seats based on the vote count for the candidates.

Their most obvious candidate for a seat is Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde, whose campaign launch we covered recently. He was also nominated as the Pirate Party Europe candidate for Commission President with Amelia Andersdotter as mentioned earlier.

Croatia (11)

It’s almost déjà vu for Croatian Pirates. They are one of only three Pirate parties to have previously contested a European parliament election, along with the Germans and Swedes. In their case, however, it was during an extraordinary election last year on their acceptance to the EU, where they scored 1.13% of the vote, putting them 12th of 28 parties.

This year it appears that most parties have joined into a few coalitions or partnerships, with several European group affiliations mixed, but there are still 25 groups listed on the ballot. It certainly makes for an interesting election for the 13 pirates on the Croatian Pirate Party list who are bucking the local coalition trend and standing alone.

Slovenia (8)

In Slovenia, they’re being a little more “realistic” (in their own words) and fielding only a single candidate. Rolando Benjamin Vaz Ferreira is a translator specializing in English and German as well as his native Slovenian.

The feeling is upbeat and positive though, telling TF: “We’ve received incredible support amongst those who know of us, may it be voters, journalists, civil servants and even other party officers. Our biggest limiting factor is how many people we can reach in time.” In 2009, 9.7% was needed to win a seat, a figure that might be possible if the anti-corruption sentiment that has swept the country leads to a strong pirate vote.

Luxembourg (6)

As one of the smallest and most overlooked countries with only 6 seats available, the barrier is high (some 15%) but  party president and list-leader Sven Clement is a mixture of optimist and realist. After getting 2.96% in last October’s national election he’s hopeful for an improvement, but a double-digit increase is unlikely.

Clement told TF that despite that, people should still vote Pirate to ensure they can receive the kind of public financing the larger parties enjoy, enabling them to compete on a more level field.

Estonia (6)

The Estonian Pirate Party is also not running any candidates of its own in this election. They are, however, endorsing an independent candidate instead. Silver Meikar supports the Pirate platform, and has reportedly agreed to include a Pirate adviser as a member of his staff, if elected.

As with Luxembourg, with only six seats available, there is a high threshold for election, but only 8.7% of the vote was needed in 2009 for a seat.

Italy (73)

There is some debate about Italy and if they are running a ‘pirate’ candidate, hence its entry at the end of the list. As far as we can tell, the Italian Pirate Party is acting as an advising party on digital rights for the coalition “The Other Europe”, a left-wing coalition that includes the Communist Refoundation Party, Left Ecology Freedom, and the Labour party.

Italy, like France and the UK, uses a regional constituency system. However, which candidates in the coalition’s regional lists are Pirates (if any) are not known to us at this time.

Belgium (21)

Belgium is one of the earlier casualties. Despite having produced a candidate list for both it’s Dutch and French-speaking regions, they were unable to collect enough public signatures in time to make it onto the ballot.

Election dates

The European Parliament elections will take place on the following days

  • May 22nd for the Netherlands and the United Kingdom,
  • May 23rd for Ireland and the Czech Republic.
  • May 24th you can vote in Latvia, Malta, Slovakia, and the French Overseas territories and a second days voting in the Czech Republic
  • May 25th is for all other EU countries.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Law Boosted Music Sales , Plunged Internet Traffic

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

cassetteIt’s been five years since Sweden implemented the controversial anti-piracy legislation, IPRED.

The law, which gives rights holders the authority to request the personal details of alleged copyright infringers, was met with fierce resistance from ISPs and the public at large.

At the same time, however, there were plenty of signs that the law stopped people from pirating. A day after it went into effect, Netnod Internet Exchange reported a significant drop in Swedish Internet traffic.

Inspired by the anecdote, the effectiveness of IPRED has become a topic of interest for economists at Uppsala University in Sweden. In a new paper they report their findings on the effect of the anti-piracy law on Internet traffic and music sales.

The main goal of the research is to examine whether the anti-piracy law did indeed have an effect, and to what extent. To make sure that the effect is unique to Sweden, both Norway and Finland were chosen as control groups.

The results, which will be published in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, confirm that Internet traffic decreased quite a bit after IPRED went into effect, beginning abruptly the very same day.

IPRED’s apparent effect on Internet traffic
internet effect

Perhaps even more surprisingly, music sales also skyrocketed compared to the other two Scandinavian countries.

“We find that the reform decreased Internet traffic by 16% and increased music sales by 36% during the first six months. Pirated music therefore seems to be a strong substitute to legal music,” the researchers write, summarizing the results.

IPRED’s apparent effect on digital music sales
digsales

Interestingly, however, the overall effect on Internet traffic and music sales vanished after half a year. The only effect that remained was the increase in digital sales. Internet traffic and physical music sales returned to normal, in part because the chance of getting caught is quite low.

“The deterrent effect decreased quickly, possibly because of the few and slow legal processes. Law enforcement through convictions therefore seems to be a necessary ingredient for the long-run success of a copyright protection law,” the researchers note.

The researchers suggest that if more people are convicted, the effects may last longer. During the first few years only a handful of file-sharers were brought to justice, while hundreds of thousands took steps to circumvent the law.

“As the first court cases were only settled recently, it is still possible that further convictions would restore an effect that is more long-lasting,” they write in their conclusion.

The question remains, however, whether bankrupting people or throwing them in jail is the ideal strategy in the long run…

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder Launches Election Campaign For European Parliament

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

peter-sundeBorn in Sweden but with Finnish roots, Peter Sunde will run as candidate for Finland’s Pirate Party in the European Parliament elections next year.

The Pirate Party movement currently has two Swedish Members of the European Parliament. In the 2014 elections the Pirates are participating in many countries, hoping to expand the success story.

With Sunde the Finnish party definitely has one of the most prominent candidates on the ballot.

As an Internet entrepreneur and the former spokesperson of The Pirate Bay, Sunde’s subversive work is already known to millions of people across Europe. Despite a pending prison term for his involvement with The Pirate Bay, he is determined to disrupt the European Parliament in Brussels.

Today, Sunde launches his run for the European Parliament elections with a rather unusual video. Instead of scolding the competition, the campaign will highlight several personality traits of the Pirate Bay co-founder, starting with his romantic side.

“Most politicians are boring and unromantic. Romance is needed because it means you have a heart and a soul,” Sunde told TF commenting on the relevance of romance in politics.

Most of all, however, Sunde wants to bring back ideology to modern-day politics. Instead of taking notes from powerful lobbyists and bashing other politicians, he wants to let people know what he believes in, and how that should be accomplished.

“I’m tired of careerists in politics who rather talk about what the other guys are doing wrong instead of talking about what our future should be. I see no ideology in politics anymore, but we never needed it more than today,” Sunde tells TF.

“Politicians in general, EU-politicians in particular, are prone to listening to lobbyists and afraid of not getting re-elected. I am clear with what I want, and I will fight for those no matter what lobbyists will say,” he adds.

Running for the Pirate Party, Sunde is in favor of decriminalizing file-sharing for personal use. In addition, he wants to keep the Internet free and open, without needless censorship and restrictions.

“We need a free Internet, an open democratic society, more transparency in governments,” he says.

The Pirate Bay co-founder is well aware of the fact that he is not the typical Parliament member, but that may be a strength rather than a weakness. In any case, he definitely stands out.

“I might be a weird fit for the EU but that’s exactly why I think I’m needed. My campaign videos are probably quite weird too, just for the same reason,” Sunde concludes.

In a few weeks we will know if the Finns agree that Sunde is the right choice to represent them in Brussels.

Photo credit

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Danish Police “Threaten” Former Colleague of Pirate Bay Founder in Cambodia

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

At this very moment alleged “super hacker” Gottfrid Svartholm is being held in a Danish prison on suspicion of hacking into the computers of IT company CSC.

The trial is expected to begin in the early days of September, more than four months from today and close to ten months since he was extradited to Denmark from Sweden in 2013. But while one might presume that the authorities already have everything they need to prosecute Svartholm, it appears that their investigation is still very much a work in progress.

It’s no secret that Gottfrid’s last days of freedom were spent in Cambodia, a country that he came to call home and where he’d built a life and found work. Now, some 20 months since he left the country, the police investigation into his activities there have been revived. And, according to one of their targets, the manner in which it’s being carried out is a cause for concern.

John, who has asked us not to use his full real name, is a former colleague of Gottfrid who lives and works in Cambodia. TorrentFreak has confirmed his identity and the fact that he and Gottfrid did business together. On April 2 he received an unexpected telephone call about someone he hasn’t seen for years.

Mysterious police threats

“The person who spoke to me on the phone was threatening and aggressive. He spoke with a thick European accent and initially said he was ‘with Nordic police’,” John explains.

“At that point I didn’t think I was speaking to an actual policeman because really, ‘Nordic police’ is about as evasive as an introduction can possibly be. After I repeatedly asked for more details, he only specified ‘Swedish police’. No name, no badge number.”

John was told he needed to go to a meeting to discuss Gottfrid but with such a mysterious introduction he was concerned at what might be waiting for him, including this not being genuine police business.

“I felt uncomfortable with the situation, and due to the way the call had been handled up to that point, I didn’t want to meet them. I had no idea whether I was even speaking to a real policeman,” John explains. “I asked if this meeting was voluntary, and he specifically said that they would ‘use local police to force’ me into meeting them.”

John was informed that the meeting would consist of him, the mystery Swedish policeman, a local Cambodian policeman, and a Danish policeman.

“They allowed me to choose the location, but said it had to be the same day. I chose a very public cafe for my own safety,” he says. Due to the apparent urgency of the situation, John had no time to arrange for a lawyer to be present.

Once the call had ended, John contacted his embassy but was informed that there was little they could do to help. Although apprehensive he decided to attend the meeting, set for the lobby bar in the Hotel Cambodiana.

Meeting in the hotel

“When I turned up to the meeting, the guy who threatened me on the phone wasn’t there, and instead there was Jens Jorgensen from the Danish police and Anders Riisager [pictured right, different occasion], who introduced himself as ‘Copenhagen Deputy District Attorney’,” John explains, adding that neither would reveal the identity of the person who made the earlier threats.

ag-picWith the meeting underway, John reports that Anders was being “nice” and apologized for the earlier telephone threats while clarifying it was neither of them. Most of their questions were “unanswerable”, as they were “based on the type of thing that one wouldn’t remember from three years ago, such as what kind of computer Gottfrid used, etc.”

The million-dollar PC-access question

However, police also showed an interest in who had access to Gottfrid’s computer in Cambodia. This is of particular interest because it was on this point that Gottfrid had his Swedish ‘Logica’ conviction overturned after the Court of Appeal couldn’t rule out that someone else accessed his computer to commit crimes.

“I was threatened and bullied into attending this questioning, and yet they completely ignored the answers when it wasn’t what they wanted to hear. A good example is that they asked if anyone else had access to [Gottfrid’s] computer. When I said yes, they didn’t even ask for a full detailed list of people, not that I’d have one though, it was years ago,” John explains.

“The simple fact is that there were 50+ people with direct physical access to [Gottfrid’s] computer at the time that the police were asking about. They were visibly pissed off [when I told them that], and given the threats that had already been made, it was an uncomfortable situation for me to say the least.”

Why has it taken so long?

Considering how closely John worked with Gottfrid it seems extremely unlikely that the police had no interest in him before this month, especially in respect of providing information in the crucial days leading up to and after Gottfrid’s arrest in August/September 2012. Yet this was the first time police had asked him anything.

“The implication that this isn’t something they had already looked into earlier on is just bizarre. This was the first time I’ve ever been questioned by police in relation to anything concerning Gottfrid,” John says.

“The most shocking part of the whole thing was just how ridiculous their questions were. These people are traveling around to third world countries refusing to identify themselves, making threats that border on being criminal, all so they can ask about rumors and hearsay that dates back over three years.”

Desperate times?

“You can all say what you want about Gottfrid, but the fact is, the actions of the people investigating this case are clearly the actions of desperate people who are grasping at straws. If they had any evidence, they wouldn’t need to go around behaving the way they are,” he says.

Describing the whole episode as “shocking and outrageous”, John says that he hopes some good will come out of making his experiences public.

“Gottfrid isn’t someone I feel I owe anything to, but this whole investigation is clearly ridiculous and without merit. It could have been any one of a whole bunch of people [with access to Gottfrid’s computer] and they know it. I don’t want to cause problems for myself, but I’d like to see Gottfrid get treated like a human being.”

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.