Thursday, April 16, 2009

The News from Sweden

The Pirate Bay trial judgement is going to be announced on Friday. There will be a live video press conference at 1pm (CET) on Friday no matter what the verdict is. A possible jail term is one outcome for the four individuals charged with assisting copyright infringement. The outcome of the trial against The Pirate Bay has little consequence for the Peer to Peer global community but it does have significant consequences for the media ecology of Sweden. For this reason I will be following the trial result on Friday. Whatever happens their will be an appeal on Friday to a higher court. So this could go on for a long time yet. The trial has polarised the file sharing community and any further legal action will probably continue this. One amazing development from the Pirate Bay Trial is the formation of the spectrial thread on Twitter which remains active and has brought thousands of file sharers into communication with each other.

Here are some observations on the situation in Sweden regarding the Pirate Bay and the IPRED Law and what will happen tomorrow in the Stockholm Local Court:

The second event of interest coming out of Sweden this week is the closing of applications for tertiary study in the whole of the country for the Fall Term 2009. Higher (and lower and middle) education is free in Sweden. No charge for university. Nothing! I think this is amazing. I took part in the No Fees! demonstrations in Australia in 1989 (my first direct political action as an adult) as we witnessed the death of free higher education in that country. Not only is higher education free in Sweden, anyone anywhere in the world can apply to study here. Also for free. All you need is a visa, the requirements for the course (language etc.) and enough money to live on.

The contrasts in Sweden interest me; the severity of the IPRED law against file sharing and the amazing progressive attitude when it comes to education. Both are concerned with the spread of information and knowledge. One, education, is seen as a basic human right, while the spread of what are largely immaterial commodities over the internet is a crime. I would argue that both are related through the desire of people to expand themselves, to learn and experience.

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