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Archive for April, 2009

Time Out

Heading to my secret base in the woods to finish what I hope is my next major project. There’s so much pirate stuff to write about right now, but if I do it, this next thing will never get finished. Back in like, a week or so. Until then please enjoy the excellent Submarines by DJ Zinc, from his new album Life Begins at Midnight, whose sound best describes the condition of my heavily caffeinated, overclocked brain until the secret project is done.

Everybody lost The Pirate Bay trial

Pirate flag at half mast

Pirate flag at half mast by Atom X

The victory for the entertainment business was Pyrrhic. Four Swedes have been martyred. Yet content creators and consumers are no closer to new business models that solve the problem.

Piracy is not usually honorable. But it is often a symptom of some kind of failure or injustice. The 17th Century pirates of the high seas were rebelling against tyrannical maritime labor practices. The pirates in Somalia are a direct result of government failure, and the pirates put on trial in Sweden were the result of a market failure, which is sadly now a decade old.

That the market has not come up with alternatives to file-sharing good enough to make piracy moot is the real problem, and the companies and individuals that have stood in the way of this are the ones who owe content creators an explanation. Extremists on both sides are hailing this as a win, but it’s the majority of us in the middle who continue to lose out.

This was a show trial about money and politics, but most of all it was a sideshow. This argument is over and the entertainment industries should be focusing on the licensing schemes, royalty agreements and the new business models content creators desperately need. Thankfully many more of them are. But this verdict will encourage the ones who are not to continue pretending there is some other way around this problem that involves suing people.

No one should have to accept people stealing their work, just as no one should have to accept a company demanding that its business model works when it doesn’t. But we all have to adapt to new market realities. The way we communicate and distribute all kinds of information will continue to change at an alarming pace. Taking hard-line measures against file-sharing in the interests of a handful of large organizations sets a dangerous precedent for the future of privacy, net neutrality and freedom of speech. Intellectual property laws are about striking a balance between the interests of individual IP creators and society as a whole. If the law tips too far in either direction, the whole system will fall. Bad legal decisions on piracy may actually end up doing more damage than the piracy itself.

The verdict gives lawyers everywhere a mandate to continue chasing shadows. It won’t stop the Pirate Bay, let alone online piracy. The 20% surge in the Pirate Party’s membership that was reported after the trial was just the beginning. It’s since grown by 140% and is now the fourth largest political party in Sweden. Most of the commentary that followed rightly talked of cutting heads off hydras and hitting hornet’s nests, etc. What that really means is non-accountability measures being baked into Bit Torrent software as standard, probably in the next six months to a year. It’s already starting to happen.

Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde said after the trial that “there’s no difference between us and Google.” The judge thought there was a difference – intent. The Pirate Bay was clearly all about file-sharing, Google is not. But thanks to this trial the next generation of file-sharing sites will be much more secretive. The next mutation of The Pirate Bay will have no subversive rhetoric and won’t mock the labels and studios chasing it. It will be silent. It won’t respond. It wont be nearly as fun as TPB, but there will be no real differences between it and Google. No one will be able to prove intent, making it even more of a threat. Doesn’t exactly sound like a win for anybody in the business of creating content.

The real winners won’t be the ones that come out on top of this long, bitter trial process, appeals and all, which could take five years. It will be the side that develops the new technologies that will render that court decision meaningless before it is even issued. They may be Scandinavian pirates or Hollywood privateers, or some combination of thereof. The file-sharing community is working ten times harder because of this trial. The entertainment industries would be wise to do the same, and wiser to find ways to work with the pirates they continue to fight. The fact that they didn’t do so ten years ago cost a generation of artists billions. No-one is ever going to trial for that.

“There has been a perception that piracy is OK and that the music industry should just have to accept it. This verdict will change that.”

The above is a quote John Kennedy, chairman of industry body the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), gave to the BBC after The Pirate Bay trial verdict this morning.

The graph below is the surge in the Swedish Pirate Party’s membership today. The 20% jump means the Pirate Party now has more members than the Swedish Green Party, and, as Pirate Party VP Christian Engström put it, could be their “ticket into the European Parliament”.

Pirate Bay found guilty

Full story at Torrentfreak.

Pirate Bay found guilty

The Pirate Bay founders Frederik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Carl Lundstrom and Peter Sunde have been found guilty of aiding illegal file-sharing. Below is a video they posted to the site.

Guest passes out live on Glenn Beck

This gets better the more you watch it. The only thing more nauseating than constantly hearing about how bad the global economy is doing on cable TV is listening to Glenn Beck pretend he knows what he’s talking about. I would have passed out too. Apparently the guy was okay. Via Howfresheats.

Play Machinima Law

Reposted from Boing Boing


DATE: April 24-25, 2009

LOCATION: Stanford Law School

Register now.


…It has been hailed as the art form of the 21st century. …It is redefining music videos. …And reinventing the videogame. …It might be the future of cinema.

But there’s a catch: if you make machinima, you might be breaking the law.

Or are you?

Find out at Stanford University. “Play Machinima Law” from April 24-25, 2009. This two-day conference will cover key issues associated with player-generated, computer animated cinema that is based on 3D game and virtual world environments. Speakers include machinima artists/players, legal experts, commercial game developers, theorists, and more. Topics include: game art, game hacking, open source and “modding,” player/consumer-driven innovation, cultural/technology studies, fan culture, legal and business issues, transgressive play, game preservation, and notions of collaborative co-creation drawn from virtual worlds and online games. Films will be shown throughout the conference, including: Douglas Grayeton’s Molotov Alva and His Search for the Creator and Joshua Diltz’ Mercy of the Sea.

One thing that worries me about being on the corporate lecture circuit…

is that if stay on it too long, I may one day turn into this guy:

Twitter Graf


via Question Marc

Bear with me

Bear With Me

Blogging has been mad, mad slack this last few weeks. Been traveling a lot, but that’s no excuse. Mostly it’s down to being totally immersed in my next project, which I can’t say anything about for a few months yet, other than it’s not Pirates 2, and I’m really excited about it.

In the meantime I just got the first proof of the US paperback – which my friend here is modeling. It looks exactly the same as the hardback, other than a great new cover endorsement from Chris Anderson, and is exactly the same inside. I thought about updating/expanding it but in the end, time constraints made it impossible. On one hand that was a shame, because much has happened since the book first came out, which I’ve tried to deal with here (the blog basically is the extended book). People have dealt with Pirate’s Dilemmas in all sorts of ways, both good and not so good. Having said that, the core message of the book remains the same, so why change it? We haven’t got to a point where enough people get this yet. So instead I focused on working with people and organizations individually to push that message.

But I do think things are slowly changing. More people in more industries are starting to look past the problems of here and now to the possibilities of economic models based on abundance – the potential this new economic system has (Anderson’s next book FREE is going to do a lot to help that).

All the current financial turmoil will take us somewhere very different. Unlike any place we’ve seen before in history. But not enough people see the wood for the trees yet. Arguing about the future of the music business is moot. What’s interesting is what this world might look like a few decades down the road when this new system has matured, got past the growing pains and shaken off the old dogma. When abundance is a positive, profitable reality in all kinds of industries, even though we will undoubtedly be facing incredible, life-threatening scarcities at the same time. That’s what I find really interesting. And that’s the only clue I’m giving you about the next project for now : )

Pirates is out in paperback May 5th.

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