JIN-512 -- The war rages on

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J@pan Inc Newsletter
The 'JIN' J@pan Inc Newsletter
A weekly opinion piece on social, economic and political trends in Japan.
Issue No. 513 Thursday August 13, 2009, Tokyo

I keep hearing the same questions over and over again but I still
don’t hear any answers. Or I hear a lot of things that could be
answers but I don’t see a whole lot of evidence of anything being put
into practice.

In Sweden the pirates have rallied, and the people have
joined in behind them in a kind geeky, self-centered, modern-day
version of Robin Hood and his base of co-conspirators. Meanwhile
Bescherming Rechten Entertainment Industrie Nederland (or BREIN for
short), the Netherlands leading copyright lobby group, has taken on a
kind of Sheriff of Nottingham role in this misplaced battle of
“morals.” At the end of last month, the Pirate Bay was hit with an
injunction stating the site couldn’t be operated in the Netherlands.
If they did not comply, the owners -- Fredrik Neij, Peter Sunde and
Gottfrid Svartholm Warg – would have to pay up to $42,000 a day with a
maximum fine of $4.2 million in total.

(Note: I just checked - thepiratebay.org is still up and running. The trio had
10 days to take it down so I suppose those fines are ticking away now)

Complicating matters, Global Gaming Factory X, the operator of a string
of gaming centers in Sweden, has put in a bid to buy The Pirate Bay for
$8 million -- a bid which Europe’s major recorded music group, the
International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), has moved
to block. GGF has plans to make Pirate Bay a service for fee-paying

The Pirate Bay saga is probably the most public of the copyright
battles being fought and whether it is won or lost, in the end, it
doesn’t really matter. While The Pirate Bay has, for some, become a
kind of symbol of sticking it to The Man, it is more symbolic of a
distribution system that changed years ago and more importantly, a
mentality that began to change 15 years ago when newspapers decided
to give away their content for free. Now, a whole generation of avid Internet
users expect news, entertainment and applications for free and simply
will not pay for it.

So the recording industry is doomed to failure. The recording
companies will fight to the bitter end with organizations such the
IFPI filing lawsuits and attacking the many new heads of the Hydra but
the problem now lies with the attitudes of the general consumer. If
they expect digital content for free, then they will demand they get it
for free, if not vocally, then by finding the next peer-to-peer site.
Newspapers in their current form are doomed. The movie theaters are
still pulling in crowds but DVD sales continue to drop.

Advocates of Web 2.0 or 3.0 or wherever we are, may sing the praises
of new information dissemination sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
But where are the new sites which bring money to those creating
the content? Twitter hardly makes any money, (well it’ll make money if
it’s sold).

I believe that recorded information, aka information able to be copied
digitally, cannot be used as the basis of a revenue model from now on.
The business models need to shift because the consumer base has
shifted. So my question remains: where are the answers? The Sheriffs
of Nottingham believe their lawyers have the answers but I think pirates,
or more accurately, their black market customers are going to continue
to win this war. So what's next? I want answers! And I want them before:

a) Journalists become something that kids only read about in
history books and describe to their friends as these people that were
"kind of like bloggers;"

b) Movies have their budgets reduced to a point where the summer
Hollywood movies all look like The Blair Witch Project and we have to
watch them all on our phones;

c) The day the music dies;

Well, maybe the music will never die but I think that musicians now have a
great chance to reach a much larger audience than ever before but no
business model has been developed where they will really capitalize. Someone
has to hand over money at some point for this to happen. So, how will this
occur? Standing at the gates of Fox selling tickets to information, isn't
going to work. So what will?

Michael Condon

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"I just checked - thepiratebay.org is still up and running. The trio had 10 days to take it down so I suppose those fines are ticking away now"

This conclusion is not necessarily correct. The injunction states that the site shouldn’t be accessible from the Netherlands. In other words: the judge did not say anything about users in other countries, for example from Japan.
Also: the injunction is not final. The defendants couldn't be reached when this court case was held and had therefor no opportunity to defend themselves. Allegedly were they not even aware that a case was running against them. They heard about the verdict afterward and raised an objection, so there will be a "round two" in this case.