In Sweden there has been a wide debate the past year about what is called Ipred. This is the laws on which personal information can be demanded by police if a private person is a suspect of software or movie piracy. Even though this is how the law is written there has not been any pirates caught using the law this far. The law that so many was yelling would tear down the very foundation on which our freedom of speech was standing on has proven to change nothing at all. This is not the case in all countries though.
Germany have had a similar law as Sweden for about the same duration. What happend here was that the law created a new offspring of lawyers which specialized in canibalizing on the new market as henchemens of the movie industry. By sending out fierce threats of courts they demand a fee from about 1000 SEK (about €100) up to ten times that amout. By paying this fee stright away the suspected pirate can skip court and with this also a risk or a bigger fee together with a court order.
[…] if a person break a law they have accepted the consequence of doing so.
Let’s start by making something clear. I do not condone the use of force from a country in which a law has been broken, if a person break a law they have accepted the consequence of doing so. In this case however it is no longer the state that make this decision, instead it is the individual lawyer on behalf of a company which perform an act of violence (by using threat) to force a person to pay. You have a private company, which should help us by defending our rights, instead working with handing out threats since their masters are not honest enough to do accept how the law was written. One might wonder, is this the same path we will walk in Sweden?
According to Katrina Hebben who work out of an lawyers office involved in these questions called Baumgarten Brandt they do not yet hold any Swedish clients. The reason for this is that the law is written a bit different in Sweden then it is in Germany. Perhaps our law is not that bad after all? Perhaps it is not killing of our freedom but instead securing it in a situation where it easily could have gotten out of hands?
While the specialized lawyer firms stand tall behind the movie industry there is however yet another section of lawyers who due to this specialized in defending the persons who recieve the threats. Well, we all must be happy that the situation seem to generate jobs any way! The thing is however that a person which recieve a threat don’t have that much of a choice then to pay what is requested. A pirated movie for example is a fellony and since it is, the fee must be payed. I just hope that one of those letters don’t get to the elderly or the ones not technically knowing which have an hacked wifi which the neighbours use to download.
This is more money payed by pirates then the movie has made in Germany, dvd sales and cinama tickets combined.
But back to the main story, can the threat of court make pirates pay up enough to give back the investment of chaising them? Since the lawyers own fees quite often is held in the shadows all we can see is what money they get payed for they threats. The Swedish newspaper Sydsvenskan had the movie Antichrist by Lars von Trier as an example (english translation). Upon contract from the movie company Zentropa more then 600 people has been threatened by Baumgarten Brandt and these 600 persons have combined payed about 5.5M SEK (about €550.000) to not go to court. This is more money payed by pirates then the movie has made in Germany, dvd sales and cinama tickets combined.
So the hunt for pirates is steaming ahead, all at the same time as the cinemas breaking new records (english translation) for visiting people paying to see movies on the big screen while the rest of the media is continuing to report on the massive loss of income caused by pirates.
I wonder if the industry had made the same amount of revenue if they actually looked into a substainable payment model and level where people could rent or buy movies online quick and easy. Looking at the massive increase in services the last year in video on demand, it is obvious for me that the ordinary movie watchers have been longing for this. Even the market itself have known for a long time what was happening. I still belive that most people would pay for a movie if the price was right and the service was easy enough. From my end, when iTunes get a deal to be used (legally) in Europe I know that more people will find the service irresistable just as I have.
We all want to watch movies and if there is a simple service which can make it so that we don’t have to get out of the sofa to do so – we will use it. If there is no such service, piracy will just grow. As long as piracy grows, counter efforts do to.
Isn’t simple buisness mechanics beautiful?
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