Technology and Business Law Blog

Pirate Bay Wins the First Round

I have been reading about the Pirate Bay court trial in Sweden, after all these years of hype and the public looking forward to a long legal battle, the trial has turned out to be a bit of an anti-climax right at the second day. The plaintiffs consisting of  the entertainment industry conglomerate, had accused Pirate Bay of assisting copyright infringement. To assist in infringement the defendant had to help distribute illegal files and the plaintiffs were not able to prove that, and as per the Capitol v. Thomas case heard in the U.S, making available cannot amount to distribution of copyrighted material.

Pirate Bay lawyer has held on to the old argument that  “To supply a service that can be used illegally or legally is not illegal.” Pirate Bay does not host any of the copyrighted material themselves but makes available file sharing BitTorrent technology to search and download files. BitTorrent technology though used for peer to peer file sharing can also be used for other non-infringing uses.

The prosecution  dropped charges relating to “assisting copyright infringement”, and focused on “assisting making available copyrighted content”, stating that “everything related to reproduction will be removed from the claim”. The reason for this was that the prosecution was not able  to prove that illegally distributed files had used the Pirate Bay site.

This is a real set back for the entertainment and software industry but a victory for people who believe in creativity and progress. Just as I have stated before, copyright is losing its grip and with the avalanche of new technology, copyright infringement issues will lose its meaning. Copyright infringement has happened from pre-historic times, when man started drawing figures on cave walls and will continue till the human race exists.

February 18, 2009 Posted by | Copyright and innovation, Copyright Infringement, p2p | | Leave a comment

Copyright Humbug

After a long break, I am back and I seem to have developed a writers block. It is funny that when you write on a regular basis thoughts and words flow easily.

I have been thinking about how the concept of copyright got started and after doing a some Googling, just as I had suspected it was a concept which was developed in the western world as early as the 1600’s. It is interesting that the concept caught on in the eastern world only in the mid 2oth  century. Copyright was started to protect the economic interests of artists but in my opinion there is no need to protect a creative process. Most creative works are and have been inspired from something that was already in existence.

Copyright protection is inefficient, unproductive and hypocritical. In the modern era, it protects the economic interests of business conglomerates who create monopolies. It mainly serves the needs of companies like Disney. In fact Disney is one of the companies that thrives on using creative material from every part of the world. For example, it takes ancient tales of Panchatantra, cheapens it, by changing the characters with westernized names and re-spins it out by copyrighting the tales themselves.

Art and the artist did survive and flourish before the copyright protection system was put in place. Taking India as an example, wonderful paintings, music, writings and other forms of art were created without anyone copyrighting them. They have been reused, embellished and new forms have been created out of the old and both the art and the artist thrived. Imagine copyrighting artistic works like the Taj Mahal, well maybe if it could have been done, (still by now would be in the public domain) then there would not be this so called replica Taj Mahal in Bangladesh.

It is interesting to note that some writing of Mahatma Gandhi will soon become part of the public domain and the trust that has the rights to these works will not be seeking to extend the copyrights, since Gandhi himself did not believe in copyright protection.

Each one of us in our everday lives infringe copyrights on an on going basis and if we start listing them, and there was a cop around each time to penalize, our everyday infringement will add up to thousands of dollars per day. In essence, copyright infringement will never cease and if anything will only grow with todays technology. Creative works are creations that should be enjoyed and be allowed to create other things based on them freely.

February 13, 2009 Posted by | Copyright, Copyright and innovation, Copyright Infringement | Leave a comment

Napster, Kaaza, TiVo, YouTube….

Here is a fantastic article by Cory Doctorow on subtle copyright issues and his insight on our unquenchable thirst for  getting innovative ways of getting music, movies, videos etc without really having to pay for it. I love his science fiction style of writing, maintains a tempo! 

August 22, 2007 Posted by | Copyright and innovation | Leave a comment