Moving to Freedom, .Org

Decriminalizing non-commercial file sharing



Decriminalizing all non-commercial file sharing and forcing the market to adapt is not just the best solution. It’s the only solution, unless we want an ever more extensive control of what citizens do on the Internet. Politicians who play for the antipiracy team should be aware that they have allied themselves with a special interest that is never satisfied and that will always demand that we take additional steps toward the ultimate control state. Today they want to transform the Internet Service Providers into an online police force, and the Antipiracy Bureau wants the authority for themselves to extract the identities of file sharers. Then they can drag the 15-year-old girl who downloaded a Britney Spears song to civil court and sue her.

Will the Antipiracy Bureau be satisfied with this? Probably not, because even the harsher laws now proposed will not stop the file sharing. Already there are anonymization services on the market that make the new laws ineffective. For this reason, the Antipiracy Bureau will demand new tools that further intensifies the surveillance of the Internet. The simple truth is that almost all communication channels on the Internet can be used to distribute copyrighted information. If you can use a service to send a message you can most likely use the same service to send an mp3-song. Those who want to prevent people from exchanging of copyrighted material must control all electronic communication between citizens.

In the late 1970s, the copyright industry wanted to prevent people from recording TV-shows with then-new Video Cassette Recorders. In 1998 the recording industry tried to get mp3 players banned. We politicians have to make clear that we are not prepared to build the technology-hostile control state that would be necessary to satisfy the Antipiracy Bureau and their likes.

—Karl Sigfrid, et. al., “Decriminalize File Sharing”

I agree. The market has to adapt. I imagine the alternative truly is a police state with intolerable control of and restrictions on our personal computing devices. We won’t have digital freedom if the “antipiracy forces” are successful.