In recent weeks, the attacks of overseas ‘pirates’ has been one of the top news story on every international media source. Unfortunately, the latest victim of these vicious pirate attacks is Hollywood. X-Men Origins: Wolverine, was leaked online a month before its official release. ”It’s a serious crime and there’s no doubt it’s very disappointing – I was heartbroken by it,” says Hugh Jackman, star of the leaked movie. Jackman continues voicing his displeasure by saying, “Obviously people are seeing an unfinished film. It’s like a Ferrari without a paint job.”
Hugh Jackman’s words and displeasure did not unnoticed the perpetrators of this crime, the founders of Pirate Bay (an illegal file sharing site), are on their way to prison for copyright infringement.
For years there has been disagreement between copyright enforcement agencies, artists, legislatures, and consumers as to the root cause of copyright infringement, how to stop copyright infringement, and whether violation of U.S. Copyright Law infringement should be punished the same as any other violation of federal law.
This case does nothing to swing the pendulum to one side or another. If anything it deepens the rift between the consumers, and the creators of intellectual property, their respective enforcement organizations, and the legal community. Peter Sunde’s (one of the founders of Pirate Bay) lawyer describes the judge’s decision to send his client to prison for copyright infringement as “a battle between the corporate world and a generation of young people who want to take part in new technology…”
Although Mr. Sunde’s lawyer’s statement may be true for some of the past cases in recent years where private individuals have been convicted for copyright infringement or because they owned the computer the copyright infringement occurred on, it is not true for this particular case.
In this case, the statement made by Sunde’s lawyer reiterating the rift between corporate America and the younger generation and using it to defend his client’s actions is a reckless statement…at best. I believe that the younger generation should be able to learn about technology and have the opportunity to advance it; however, not at the expense of the law.
Mr. Sunde’s lawyer fails to mention the doctrine ‘fair use’ in his statement. A doctrine which was created to allow the limited use of copyrighted material for scholarship or review without permission from the copyright owner. Under the doctrine of ‘fair use’ young adults or anyone for that matter who wishes to learn more about technology, and be included in the development of new technology may do so, legally.
It seems to me that Mr. Sunde along with his Pirate Bay co-founders, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm and Carl Lundström did not create Pirate Bay for the sole purpose of ensuring youth inclusion in new technology, or for purposes covered under the doctrine of ‘fair use’. Instead, The Pirate Bay boasts that it is “the world’s largest Bit Torrent tracker.” It is funded by advertisements shown next to torrent listings; therefore, it is a for-profit enterprise.
More importantly, the LA Times reports that The Pirate Bay is “one of the world’s largest facilitators of illegal downloading.” The aforementioned facts do not do much to support Mr. Sunde’s lawyer’s assertion the decision to send his client and his business partners to jail is politically motivated and initiated by Corporate America. Much of this is because Mr. Sunde and his business partners are a part of Corporate America…that is the illegal members of Corporate America.
Additionally, The Pirate Bay does not publicize a mission statement of being created to include young adults in new technology. In fact, it does not state the age range of the majority of its’ members anywhere. I would think if Mr. Sunde were truly passionate about the inclusion of youth in new technology The Pirate Bay would closely monitor the age of its’ users, and ensure that the audience it is reaching is the younger generation.
The unfortunate thing about both sides’ arguments is that neither side offers a sustainable plan on how to include young adults in new technology while educating and promoting respect for the law. It is true that a large amount of online copyright infringers are members of the younger generations. However, it is my belief that the infringement arises because of a lack of education on copyright law; as opposed to the infringement being a malicious intent to illegally obtain and share copyrighted material. Therefore, I believe moving forward the focus of both sides should not be recovering lost profits and damages or the right to operate file sharing websites. Instead, the focus should be copyright law education along with the inclusion of young adults in the development of new technology.