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More on the Danish “pirate” situation

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After reading Eric’s entry about file sharing in Denmark I decided to write an entry for my own weblog, which I figured some of you might want to read as well.

Once again something is rotten in the state of Denmark. A couple of weeks ago it was revealed that something called The Anti Pirate Group had sent out bills to 150 Kazaa users, who had shared copyrighted material. The group is, according to this article, nothing more than lawyer “(Morten) Lindegaard, 29, and his helpers–four Danish university students– (who have) developed a software program that monitored Danish file swappers on the two perr-to-peer (sic) networks, honing down to the users’ Internet Protocol, or IP, address to confirm they were logged on from Denmark”.
The APG represents record companies and others who believe file sharing makes them lose money (I checked APG’s website for more information, but that part of the site is being “updated”). And looking through their website (which, unfortunately, is only available in Danish) makes you like them even less than you already did when you just thought they were logging your traffic. They have a news page, where they write about who they’ve busted and they even have a little map with red dots marking where they’ve been (in the Sager section). Above the map it says “Map of DenmarkHave we been near you?… Watch out…”. So as you can see they’re a real class operation.

Personally, I think this whole thing stinks. Obviously, there is a good chance that the people, who have received bills, have broken copyright laws. But the practice of sending out a bill saying that nothing more will happen if the culprit deletes the copyrighted material and pays up does seem to be close to blackmail. Especially when you’re told that if you don’t pay up you’ll be sued and the claim will be doubled.
In the previously mentioned article a professor mentions a couple of ways that shared files don’t violate copyright claims. Others have questioned the way APG have calculated the copyright holders’ loses and some are calling the whole thing an invasion of privacy. According to this article about half the people, who have received a bill have either paid up or contacted the APG (and according to this article, published five days before, around 80% have already paid up). But hopefully someone will refuse to pay and have this thing settled in court, so we can have a judge decided whether all this is legal or not.

The latest on this situation (this isn’t a part of my original posting) is that Danish web portal Jubii has sent out a newsletter (written by a guy, who has been threatened with lawsuits over a DVD website he ran) encouraging people not to pay the bills they’ve been sent. Based on rulings in cases, where people have been sent huge phone bills for calls to phone sex lines they claim they haven’t made the author of the newsletter advocates denying everything and let the APG prove that you used the computer and you made files available for sharing.
The newsletter is written in a humorous tone and explains how the APG found the culprits, it points out helpful laws and rulings, and notices that all the APG’s prior cases have been against people living in the sticks, who “are used to getting pushed around by suits” and who are easily intimidated by lawyers and their fancy jargon. It’s also mentioned that the APG doesn’t have the manpower to sue 150 individuals and that people, who in the past have ignored bills from the APG, haven’t been pulled into court. So the author of the newsletter suggests that the bills have been sent out to random Kazaa users hoping that some of them would be stupid enough to pay up.
So far the APG hasn’t responded to the newsletter, but it’ll be interesting to see if this will encourage people to either ignore the bills or attempt to have this thing settled in court.

On a related note a brilliant investigative journalist recently found out that copyrighted material was also being distributed on Usenet. Yeah, what a shocker! A part of Jan‘s job is to deal with the pirate company’s news servers, so he has written this entry about the article.

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About John Fogde

  • Eric Olsen

    Thanks John – great to have an on the scene reporter!

  • The story has now been picked up by Wired.