It is this type of copyright infringement that receives the most attention, largely due to the complaints made by the big corporations that produce and distribute this content. Their influence causes those in power around the world to sit up and listen, which often leads to a tightening of legislation.
Despite all the efforts, however, this year the world’s most infamous torrent site, The Pirate Bay, celebrates its ten-year anniversary. But while it carries on business as usual, Internet users are being subjected to increasingly tough copyright regimes, such as $150,000 fines for sharing a single song in the United States through to the increasing likelihood of arrest for those sharing more than personal-use levels of content in Sweden.
Sweden’s local Pirate Party has battled these developments for years and today, marking a decade of The Pirate Bay, they’ve demonstrated that copyright infringement is not restricted to the sharing of music and movies and that anyone – even those charged with running the country – can easily break the law at the click of a button.
The party has been doing some research on the online activities of Sweden’s IT Minister, Anna-Karin Hatt, and have discovered that the 40-year-old has not been 100% successful when it comes to absolute respect for copyright law.
Singling out Hatt’s Instagram account as an example, the party notes that the minister has posted copyrighted Calvin and Hobbes cartoons plus the artwork for several motion pictures including The Lord of the Rings, The Da Vinci Code, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Quick, send the police, it’s a non-commercial infringement of copyright
“When not even the Swedish IT Minister complies with copyright law online, one can hardly expect ordinary Internet users to feel compelled to follow such an outdated law,” says party legislative spokesperson Torbjörn Wester.
To underline their point that breaking copyright law is extremely simple these days, the Pirate Party have today reported Minister Hatt to the police, just as music and movie studios do when they find people infringing their copyrights. Wester doesn’t believe anything will come of the complaint.
“Resourceful companies and prominent politicians have not much to fear [when breaking copyright] while the police are chasing down file-sharing adolescents,” Wester says.
But of course, the Pirate Party do not want Hatt or indeed anyone else prosecuted for such a ridiculously small ‘crime’. They want to decriminalize all non-commercial sharing of “culture and knowledge”, so that citizens – Hatt included – can share a music file or indeed a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon online without fear of repercussions.
“The government and Parliament have made it impossible to live a modern life and be active on the Internet without being a criminal,” Wester concludes.