By Jon Newton 12/01/02
Charles, in the UK, is on a Scandinavian direct-connect hub and for the last little while has been telling p2pnet.net about the Svenska Antipiratbyrån (antipiracy bureau), run by Henrik Pontén, Charlotte Lilliestierna Ehrén (lawyers) and Anders Nilsson, Sung-Kyu Shoi and Calle Zakrisson (probably not lawyers ; )
With a web site here here, edited by Henrik, APB spends its days trying to nail anyone and everyone in Sweden handling file-share versions of games, videos and music; and, putting pressure on Swedish ISPs to stifle any and all file-sharing.
This is in accord with Sweden's 'notice and take down' policy which implements the European Union's ecommerce Directive - a bundle of proposals to regulate trading, advertising, 'offensive content', copyright matters and suchlike on the Net.
Sweden's Ministry of Industry is responsible for intellectual property rights issues (still very much a legal grey area in Scandinavia, as elsewhere) and although the country's RIAA and MPAA clones are going blue trying to create the impression that Swedish file-sharers are being taken down in vast numbers left, right and centre, the reality in Sweden (as in North America) is that APB is rather more inclined to put the frighteners on than to use direct action.
After all, it's far easier to scare a bunch of 13- and 14-year-olds than to try to take them to court.
And on that note, enter Antipiratbyrån, whose activities are heavily supported by Hollywood 'trade' organs such as the MPAA and RIAA, not to mention the Warner Bros p2p digit Mediafarce. (Also, have a look here.)
It seems every week APB sends large numbers of reports, often as many as 75, to Sweden's various broadband operators, hoping they'll take direct action.
So far, their hopes have been mainly in vain, but the Fulsome Five record labels and Not-So-Magnificent-Seven movie companies will no doubt continue to employ Mediafarce, OverPeer, Cyveillance and other parasite companies (which have chosen to identify file-sharers as their means of getting rich) to pass info to the Farces of Lite, and to keep downloaders wondering.
Denmark's Anti Pirat Gruppen
And now, it seems, something is equally rotten in the State of Denmark.
Kasper Larsen, one of the founders of the largest Danish Net portals called Jubii, told p2pnet.net, "my interest is to keep the internet usable for normal people - and make it possible for John and Jane Average to live without fear of computers ,-)
"I don't approve of people breaching other peoples copyright, but I think the users should have a fair treatment - and in my best opinion - they are not getting any fair chance when APG takes this approach."
What approach? - you ask.
As a service provider, Kasper keeps an eye out for anything likely to impact his bottom line - such as the activities of Denmark's Anti Pirat Gruppen which apparently, is trying to get about 150 KaZaA and eDonkey users to fork out up to $14,000 each, "for illegally downloading copyright material".
"APG monitored the file sharing networks for available files with Danish IP addresses - and went to court to get the users' personal details from their ISPs, armed with screen shots of, for example, the KaZaA window showing the files on the user's hard-drive," he says on his news page, continuing:
"The courts obliged and ordered the ISPs to deliver the personal details of the incriminated users. Then the bills were in the post ... landing on the mats of the unfortunate downloaders over the last few days.
"Users are charged about $16 per CD and about $60 per full length movie. If they pay now - and delete the illegal content from their hard drives - then the amount is cut in half and they avoid going to court. Those who don't pay up are to be sued."
But a question that's currently begging, says Kasper, is: "If the APG has only the file names from KaZaA or eDonkey, how can it make sure that they really are illegal files and not only 'similar named' files or hoax files? Can APG prove that is the work of a certain user in a household, or will it go for the entire family?"
He also says, "Some users have pointed us to the Kazaa licenses rules that states: 'You agree not to: 2.11 Monitor traffic or make search requests in order to accumulate information about individual users'.
"But if the APG people use screen shots from Kazaa - then they violate the terms they agreed to when downloading the Kazaa software. Should this evidence then be classed a 'proper' obtained evidence? Or will the owners of Kazaa now go for the APG?
"Many questions here..."
Many indeed ; - )
Meanwhile, back in Sweden, by an amazing coincidence, the APB members include Microsoft, the Swedish branches of all the major Hollywood studios as well as the leading Swedish/Nordic movie producers Svensk Film, Sandrew-Metronome, Sonet, Nordisk Film, Scanbox, and national electronics and video companies.
And, as Charles points out, its page has links to the MDTS, or Sveriges Branschförening Multimedia Dator & TV-spel, the Swedish trade association of multimedia computer and television games which will seem hauntingly familiar if you've already been to the Antipiratbyrån site.
This features stories about the computer games trade and shares many articles in common with the APB page. In fact, by another amazing coincidence, its office is at S:t Eriksgatan 117A, Box 23021, 104 35 Stockholm AND its principals are Henrik Pontén and Charlotte Lilliestierna Ehrén (lawyers) and Anders Nilsson (probably not a lawyer ; )
The second link is to Sveriges Videodistributörers Förening - the Swedish Videodistributers Association and a trip there also induces a strange sense of déjà vu.
The site has stories about the video trade and shares articles in common with Antipiratbyrån and MDTS and by yet another absolutely astounding coincidence, is located at S:t Eriksgatan 117A, Box 23021, 104 35 Stockholm and has as its principals Henrik Pontén (lawyer), and Sung-Kyu Shoi and Calle Zakrisson (probably not lawyers ; )
Said Charles, "I only labour these points because on a whim, I rang Henrik. The Bureau invites contact and publishes personal telephone numbers. I had expected to be put on hold by some secretary since clearly, a man with three jobs must have a hectic schedule.
"However, the phone was answered promptly after a couple of rings by Henrik himself. Unfortunately, I was unable to question him since he pled poor English and handed me over to Charlotte Lilliesterna who seems to sit at the next desk.
"Charlotte is a prominent figure in Swedish copyright law, judging by web searches. Suddenly. I realised that I should have made a proper list of questions. But this was during my coffee break and it was really a spur of the moment decision to call.
"I asked a couple of questions about the original article and was taken to task because I didn't know about the ecommerce directive. When I asked her whether the antipirate bureau, the MDTS and the SVF were all part of the same organisation, I received an extremely frosty response in the negative.
"So the answer would seem to be Yes.
"After all, to a man from Mars or Manchester, three organisations under the same roof, staffed by the same people must surely share some degree of communality. Anyway, by that stage it was obvious that I was an idiot so I made my excuses and hung up.
"I had another go at the interview game a couple of days later when I called the Kommerskollegium - the Swedish Board of Trade who also invite people to ring them. I spoke to a very nice man who apologised and said that no one could talk to me because the Board was on holiday until next week. (He was probably passing the office and heard the phone.) He suggested that if I wanted an immediate response I should call the Justice Minister.
"I haven't done that yet because I have a suspicion that the Minister's office is just across the hall from the Antipirates and I'll get Lotta again, who helps out in the afternoons."
But having made the above points, Charles hastens to add, "Of course it's easy to mock the parochialism of a country with a population of only 8 million. Sweden is a friendly open country with a record of impeccable liberal values."
I'll drink to that, Charles. And Denmark, Finland and Norway are also wonderful places.
Be that as it may, however, watch this space ...
Jon Newton is the editor of p2pnet.net and is a regular contributer to MP3 Newswire. Jon's site is devoted to the politics of digital music and his insights as well as those of his co-writers can be read there. We urge to to explore it.
The Nomad Zen can be pre-ordered from Amazon.
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