Swedish Politicians Strike Blows at Copyright Lobby

Last week, seven Swedish MPs wrote to a prominent Swedish tabloid newspaper 'Expressen' to express their dissatisfaction with proposals for dealing with copyright infringers. Now, that number has increased to 13, and the issue seems to keep growing.

Karl Sigfrid, Swedish MPInitially, Karl Sigfrid, and 6 other MPs [Members of Parliament] wrote to Expressen (Swedish, English) to express their opposition to a plan proposed by Cecilia Renfors, a copyright analyst appointed by the Swedish government, in what Expressen called “Seven MPs defy the party line: Legalizing file sharing is not just the best solution, but the only solution”. Her plan was that ISPs would close down the connections of filesharers, preventing them from participating in any further copyright infringement. The condemnation for this was broad-based, from the Data inspection Board, the Competition Authority, all the way to the Swedish court of Appeal.

The message from the Moderate Party MPs to their AntipiratbyrÃ¥n supporting colleagues was “be careful, they will never be satisfied”, drawing parallels to the earlier attempts to ban MP3 players, and VCRs, both areas in which, having failed to ban, industry groups are now making a profit from selling content.

Karl Sigfrid told TorrentFreak that the APB proposals make no practical sense. “I think it could be solved in theory. However, in reality, you would need such a surveillance system to achieve this that it would be all out of proportion. So I don’t think there’s a feasilbe way of stopping individuals copying. The cause for file sharing is basically that it’s possible. People have always done it to the extent that they’ve been able to. With cassette tapes 20 years ago and electronically today. Copyright laws preventing individuals from sharing information have never been legitimate in the eyes of most people.”

When asked about if it was down to content industries being slow to change their business practices, he replied: “It’s hard to say what would have happened if the content industries had been quicker releasing their material online, before the P2P networks grew mainstream. Probably the illegal filesharing would be less extensive, but it’s possible that it would still have been increasingly difficult for iTunes and such services to compete with free downloading. The change needed might be so radical that it’s no longer about selling copies of immaterial products at all.”

Rickard Falkvinge, of the Swedish Pirate Party was understandably upbeat about it. “Karl Sigfrid’s taking a stand marks a major turning point. For the first time, an established politician shows deep-down understanding of the real conflict, instead of cluelessly humming along with a technophobical luddite industry. Some other Swedish mainstream politicians have previously talked in terms of how it’s unreasonable to declare war on an entire generation. Sigfrid is the first to understand why.” His enthusiasm is understandable as, one Swedish torrent user put it “a bunch of members of The Conservative Party have started listening to the policies of The Pirate Party, and they want to jump on their bandwagon, as it’s gaining popularity”.

Gaining popularity it is, as yesterday, thirteen members of Parliament joined in another attack (Swedish only, no English translation at present) on the likes of the APB, and recording industries, saying “The record labels are obviously opposed to a development that makes them obsolete.” However, not everyone has been celebrating. Pirate Bay administrator Brokep was skeptical, saying “I’m intrigued that the debate is sparking up again. There’s been a lot of lies from the politicians. Promises and nothing has happened, so at least this will put the debate back on the map.”

The initial seven MPs were Karl Sigfrid. Margareta Cederfelt. Ulf Berg. Lena Asplund. Staffan Appelros. Lisbeth Grönfeldt Bergman and Göran Montan. Tuesdays additions were Marie Weibull Kornias,Finn Bengtsson, Ann-Charlotte Hammar Johnsson, Sven Yngve Persson, and Anders Hansson.

**UPDATE** Sorry, forgot to add this translation of the second piece, available here

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