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Cynicism Redefined: Why The Copyright Lobby Loves Child Porn

41

Copyright Monopoly

Copyright Monopoly

“Child pornography is great,” the man said enthusiastically. “Politicians do not understand file sharing, but they understand child pornography, and they want to filter that to score points with the public. Once we get them to filter child pornography, we can get them to extend the block to file sharing.”

The date was May 27, 2007, and the man was Johan Schlüter, head of the Danish Anti-Piracy Group (Antipiratgruppen). He was speaking in front of an audience where the press had not been invited; it was assumed to be copyright industry insiders only. It wasn’t. Christian Engström, who’s now a Pirate Member of the European Parliament, net activist Oscar Swartz, and I were also there.

“My friends,” Schlüter said. “We must filter the Internet to win over online file sharing. But politicians don’t understand that file sharing is bad, and this is a problem for us. Therefore, we must associate file sharing with child pornography. Because that’s something the politicians understand, and something they want to filter off the Internet.”

“We are developing a child pornography filter in cooperation with the IFPI and the MPA so we can show politicians that filtering works,” he said. “Child pornography is an issue they understand.” Schlüter grinned broadly.

I couldn’t believe my ears as I heard this the first time. But the strategy has been set into motion worldwide.

Schlüter’s plan worked like clockwork. Denmark was the first country to censor AllOfMP3.com, the (fully legal) Russian music store, and is now censoring The Pirate Bay off the internet. The copyright industry is succeeding in creating a fragmented Internet.

COLUMN REPOST, UPDATED
This is a repost of a previous TorrentFreak column, which has been updated to reflect recent events. The book The Case For Copyright Reform also describes the scene with Mr. Schlüter, on page 14.

This is why you see the copyright lobby bring up child pornography again and again and again. They are using it as a battering ram for censoring any culture outside of their own distribution channels. You can Google the term in any language, together with the copyright lobby organization’s site in that language, and see them continuously coming back to it.

In Sweden, the copyright industry lobbyist Per Strömbäck has publicly admitted it being one of his best arguments. Try Googling for the Swedish word for child pornography on the Swedish lobby site and see if you get any hits in any articles. If there was no direct association strategy, you’d not expect to get any hits at all – you’d not expect them to touch that subject. Instead, you get over 70 hits.

The reasoning is simple and straightforward. Once you have established that someone who is in a position to censor other people’s communication has a responsibility to do so, the floodgates open and those middlemen can be politically charged with censoring anything that somebody objects to being distributed.

It is not hard to see why the copyright lobby is pursuing this avenue so ferociously.

It doesn’t really matter that censorship at the DNS level – legislating that one particular set of DNS servers must lie – is ridiculously easy to circumvent: it’s just a matter of changing your DNS provider. The idea is to create a political environment where censorship of undesirable information is seen as something natural and positive. Once that principle has been established, the next step is to force a switch to more efficient censorship filters at the IP or even the content level.

News reached us this week that the so-called six strikes arrangement with Internet Service Providers in the United States has been delayed, but is expected to take effect this year. This is a quite unpopular agreement between ISPs and the copyright lobby to police the net outside the realm of the law. The arrangement, it turns out, also stems from the copyright industry’s love of child pornography.

“We pointed out to [the governor] that there are overlaps between the child porn problem and piracy,” Mr. Sherman [The RIAA president] said, “because all kinds of files, legal and otherwise, are traded on peer-to-peer networks.” (New York Times)

Sound familiar? It should. It’s a page right out of the 2007 scene where the Danish Mr. Schlüter talked about the copyright lobby’s policymaking strategy of associating non-monopolistic sharing of culture with the rape of defenseless children.

This association strategy has now worked in the United States, too.

In the United Kingdom, when the courts ruled that the Internet Service Providers must use their existing child porn filter to also censor The Pirate Bay, who do you think gave the courts that idea? When the court didn’t just mandate that The Pirate Bay be censored, but gave the ISPs explicit instructions for what technology to use to do it? That incident is probably the clearest example of the success of this association strategy, yet.

Just when you think the copyright lobby can’t sink any lower, they surprise you again. And it gets worse. Much worse.

In Europe, the copyright lobby succeeded in pushing Commissioner Cecilia “Censilia” Malmström to create a similar censorship regime, despite clear setbacks in these ambitions from the European Court of Justice which defended human rights and freedom to communicate against internet censorship.

But taking one step back, would censorship of child pornography be acceptable in the first place? Is the copyright industry perhaps justified in this particular pursuit, beyond their real goal of blocking non-monopolistic distribution?

There are two layers of answers to that. The first is the principal one, whether pre-trial censorship is ever correct. History tells us that it plainly isn’t, not under any circumstance. End of story.

But more emotionally, we can also turn to a German group named Mogis. It is a support group for adult people who were abused as children, and is the only one of its kind. They are very outspoken and adamant on the issue of censoring child pornography.

Censorship hides the problem and causes more children to be abused, they say. Don’t close your eyes, but see reality and act on it. As hard as it is to force oneself to be confronted emotionally with this statement, it is rationally understandable that a problem can’t be addressed by hiding it. One of their slogans is “Crimes should be punished and not hidden”.

This puts the copyright industry’s efforts in perspective. In this context they don’t care in the slightest about children, only about their control over distribution channels. If you ever thought you knew cynical, this takes it to a whole new level.

The conclusion is as unpleasant as it is inevitable. The copyright industry lobby is actively trying to hide egregious crimes against children, obviously not because they care about the children, but because the resulting censorship mechanism can be a benefit to their business if they manage to broaden the censorship in a follup-up stage. All this in defense of their lucrative monopoly that starves the public of culture.

It’s hard to comprehend that there are people who are so shameless that they would actually do this. But there are. Every time you think the copyright lobby has sunk as morally low as is humanly possible, they come up with new ways to surprise you.

“With time, it becomes clearer that these people will stop at nothing.” — Danish reporter Henrik Moltke, about a (different) recent run-in with the copyright lobby, and who reminded me of this episode and who observed firsthand the next occasion when Schlüter and I met, when I reminded Schlüter of his remarks in front of a silent audience. (Thanks, Henrik.)

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About The Author: Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and is a political evangelist, traveling around Europe and the world to talk and write about ideas of a sensible information policy. He has a tech entrepreneur background and loves whisky.

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This article is also available in other languages: Spanish, Hungarian, Portuguese (Brazil), Serbian.

By participating in the discussion and posting here, you are placing your contribution in the public domain (CC0). If you are quoting somebody else, credit them.

Contributors take own responsibility for their comments.

41

  1. 1
    John Tech

    The problem with child pornography is that the crime is no longer closely tied to a proven chain of physical abuse.

    The underlying act is of course illegal, but as long as the government has an interest in suppression of even the possession of the information, it’s harder to argue that censoring the information at its source is sufficient or even comparable effective.

    The society started down a dangerous slippery slope when it began to forbid possession on dubious theory that the depiction of a particular crime was legitimate ground for punishing all actors in the information chain from the producer, distributor down to the mere possessor.

    I now remember how some civil libertarians warned of that slippery slope when the child pornography laws were extended to possession, and from there it has only been worse.

    We now criminalize so-called child pornography even where there is no actual children – a Swedish man was convicted of possessing computer animated cartoons – and the child pornography definition now encompasses depictions of acts which aren’t even illegal like teenagers having sex.

    Child pornography is no longer tied to actual physical abuse but has become a thought or information crime.

    It’s therefore impossible to criticize overbroad censorship without scrutinizing the questionable breadth of so-called child pornography.

    The premise of the preventive paradigm is that the mere act of possession or looking at the information is itself abuse and is therefore equally punishable.

    • 1.1
      next_ghost

      Not only that but if you look at rape statistics from the last few decades, you’ll notice that as the use of Internet increased, rape rates plummeted. In other words, more porn means less rape. And the same applies to child porn, though most sexuologists are still reluctant to say that out loud because the topic stirs strong negative emotions in general public.

      The most effective thing that can be done to protect real children from sexual abuse is making child porn easily accessible to pedophiles and making sure that no children are harmed during its production.

      • 1.1.1
        Grrgrr

        No children are harmed during it’s production?

        Are you insane?

        Children aren’t necessary for it, if a couple of million were spent on realistic open source CGI character production pipeline, we would not really have that problem today.

        Death penalty isn’t enough for child molesters.

        • harveyed

          The bad thing about child molesters is when they molest children, right?

          It’s far better if they could get off by watching some porn in which the production did not harm any children. Say cartoon or animated form.

        • Scary Devil Monastery

          Then we are on the same page.

          “porn” doesn’t have to be “real”. Indeed, many of the most common pornographic fantasies are difficult, painful, undesirable, illegal or impossible to perform in reality.

          http://www.hawaii.edu/PCSS/biblio/articles/2005to2009/2009-pornography-acceptance-crime.html

          This links to a meta-study incorporating the correlation of pornography and sexual crimes. It’s rather interesting reading.

        • next_ghost

          I know perfectly well that actual children are not needed to produce child porn. CGI, classic animation and even 18-year-olds who look much younger than they really are will do the trick just fine.

        • I think you guys are missing the point here. We shouldn’t be legalizing this stuff as some kind of hopeful deterrent to rape (most rapists will probably rape anyway, and most non-rapists probably wouldn’t have anyway).

          It’s because the stuff itself is harmless. It’s information. People should be punished for overt actions, the transmission of matter, things of value, which cause things to occur. Info alone generally doesn’t fit that bill.

        • “No children are harmed during it’s production?”

          with this ,you captured the essence of what child porn is.and you did it with humour!!:):)i like !!indeed death is a solution.my first reaction is this.then,i remember i am against violence and the death penalty ,and killing in general….so what do i do?i have to go with life.but real life,in special prisons,only for them.see i try to be humane..:):)but if you kill them i dont really mind,i wont say a thing..i promise.!!!

  2. 2
    John Tech

    The problem with child pornography is that the crime is no longer closely tied to a proven chain of physical abuse.

    The underlying act is of course illegal, but as long as the government has an interest in suppression of even the possession of the information, it’s harder to argue that censoring the information at its source is sufficient.

    The government and society started down a dangerous slippery slope when it began to forbid possession on dubious theory that the depiction of a particular crime was legitimate ground for punishing all actors in the information chain from the producer, distributor down to the mere possessor.

    I now remember how some civil libertarians warned of that slippery slope when the child pornography laws were extended to possession, and from there it has only been worse.

    We now criminalize so-called child pornography even where there is no actual children – a Swedish man was convicted of possessing computer animated cartoons – and the child pornography definition now encompasses depictions oc consentual sex between teenagers.

    Child pornography is no longer tied to actual physical abuse but has become a thought or information crime.

    • 2.1
      Ryan

      http://tribune.com.pk/story/382499/new-zealand-smashes-global-child-pornography-ring/

      Not tied to physical abuse? Are you kidding me?

      FTA:
      Investigators caught 55 people in 20 countries who were distributing child sexual abuse pictures and rescued 12 abused children, some of them babies, officials said.

      • 2.1.1
        Scary Devil Monastery

        And in this case we can see how the law ought to act. By rescuing children in real and current plight. Without imagery of that abuse being discovered the abuse would still be going on.

        If there is a direct link between CP and child abuse it is this: CP is evidence of crime. What most CP laws do is to try to remove said evidence from the public.

        Now here’s a little quiz for you. Traditionally the police is very, VERY bad at discovering crime. In all aspects a crime is reported by a citizen.

        Child pornography is not different. People who look for porn on shady sites discover evidence they find disturbing and/or revolting and hand it over to police.

        In sweden where even viewing CP is now a crime any person to hand over evidence of child porn to the police is now himself a suspect and is likely to be condemned since he has actually seen the evidence – unless he can prove he wasn’t actively looking for CP in the first place, which is a damn hard thing to prove.

        As a direct result then, the current laws in sweden actually hinder the protection of children, as the police now lacks the vast majority of sources which would report the existence of it. Current CP laws in practice put the emphasis on hiding the fact that a crime has been committed. Even when this will severely hinder the ability of the police to track down the actual child abusers.

        • harveyed

          That is a very good argument you have here Scary Devil Monastery. But when someone pulls such an emotional subject as child porn into the debate sadly instakills most rational thought processes in many people.

          “If we don’t look, the bad stuff will go away.” – even kids know that’s not true. But still many adults react like that when comes to really unpleasant thoughts like sexual molestation.

          It has been said that many evil things are going on not because there are no good people, but because most good people just look away because the bad stuff is so disgusting.

        • Scary Devil Monastery

          @harveyed

          “It has been said that many evil things are going on not because there are no good people, but because most good people just look away because the bad stuff is so disgusting.”

          Quite true. And especially where real abomination is concerned – sexual abuse of children is one example, ethnic cleansing or trafficking is another. People don’t want to see it and so most who don’t really care as long as they can disassociate from it simply breathe a sigh of relief when the “problem” is swept under the carpet.

          The child porn censorship laws allow every ordinary John Doe not to fear that he or she will have to stumble over something dreadful and thus s/he can go right back to watching Oprah.

          And with the expansion of the Swedish law you could be visiting a site showing drawings of high schoolers dressed in burkhas and still be liable for prosecution as a pedophile as the law is currently written – since the determination of what constitutes child pornography in sweden currently makes only these distinctions:

          1) If an observer utilizes the image in primarily sexual purposes the image is classified as child porn. Irrespective of who else possesses the image.

          2) This applies as long as the image depicts a person below the age of 18, irrespective of whether the image is connected in any way to reality or not.

          Hence, any of the thousands of ordinary porn surfers who finds an image even in the gray area is highly likely to forget about it instead of reporting it. Doubly so since although the police do have a way of providing tips “anonymously” it’s recently been proven that they are, in fact, not able to legally or practically provide whistleblowers or witnesses with any anonymity whatsoever.

          Meaning that if you’ve seen evidence of the crime, you yourself are the criminal in question. Cute.

          How do you stop evil when good people are viewed as criminals if they find evidence that someone’s done wrong?

  3. 3
    P Troon

    Thank you for highlighting this blatant cynicism and how it actually makes law enforcement work against child abuse harder. I have some thoughts to add.

    Consider that efforts to enforce copyright laws against a large technically savvy group of users wishing to continue sharing information, and avoid persecution, has spawned many new technologies for the anonymous mass distribution of digital content. It has taken a large and dedicated group to elaborate these technologies, and much of it would not have been necessary if a provision for free culture sharing existed.

    Child abusers, as a small and universally reviled group, could not have on their own elaborated and matured technology ecosystems such as bittorrent, binary newsgroups, direct download networks, VPNs, etc. that now could also make it harder for law enforcement to identify and prosecute people involved in child abuse, among other crimes.

    When a politician points to some technology involved in culture sharing and protests it will make it easier for child abusers, they have the causality reversed. These technologies would not exist, see widespread use and/or be as difficult to circumvent without the necessity that the criminalization of legitimate culture sharing has created.

    In a world where culture sharing is allowed, I can share content on a simple website, an HTTP Get request does the trick to download it. People that want what I am sharing will find it openly via Google. No indirection or anonymous global community for a criminal minority to hide in.

  4. 4
    Gurra

    I’ve heard the story before, but this strategy is so fucking cynical, I get all disgusted when I read it. They use well-being of kids as an excuse for their own greed. Maybe they (the cuntservatives) used the same primitive shame-inducing arguments in the 1800s when trying to outlaw those generations’ most important businesses such as machine transports and factories just for their own momentary gain.

    Much more importantly – it is of very high value that information is not censored or withheld from our younger generations. They learn fast and well, and there is really lots of undiscovered possibilities that the copyright monopoly could delay or even thwart if not the right 17-year-old genious get ahold of it in the right time – be it by lawful or unlawful means.

    • 4.1
      botharethesame

      How adorable. Your cuntservative moniker implies one team is worse than the other. Die in a fire, partisan

    • 4.2
      Scary Devil Monastery

      I’ll have to dissent with the choice of target here. I consider myself a liberal conservative. Quoting Thomas Jefersson, Benjamin Franklin, and similar old-school conservatives.

      Indeed, I would call most of the mess we’re in today where information control is concerned stems from radical progressives who think you can “fix” human nature by way of knee-jerk legislation.

      • 4.2.1
        Gurra

        I view it as the current “kings of the hill” of the market striving to gain monopoly on the expense of a liberal market and possitbilities for entrepreneurs to compete. That is: by legislation try and outlaw their competition. That is bad for most aspects of society in the long run no matter if the current “kings of the hill” are in a political party government situation or a successfull privately owned business.

      • 4.2.2
        Autolykos

        The misunderstanding probably comes from the fact that most parties who call themselves “conservative” are actually neo-liberal and egregiously corrupt, but not *that* conservative (except for the fact that they want the rich and powerful to stay rich and powerful; but that’s only part of being conservative).

  5. 5

    Just for the record: I shared this exerpt to my Facebook friends/followers because I just read it in The Case For Copyright Reform. I had a hard time believing he actually said that back then, and with time – getting more intimate with their way of working – I start to find it easier to believe. Still, I’d like to see the quote in context, and hear his response. I’ve been wanting to do something on the danish DNS blocks for a while. Mayve it’s time.

  6. 7
    Anonymous

    Government and citizens alike always say that just seeing child porn re-victimizes the children.
    So I find it strange that law enforcement can be in possession and see it, the courts, the juries can see it, private entities like the National Center for Missing and Exploited children can see it and possess a database of it, heck even Oprah Winfrey can see AND show it to her audience: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwbGspX_5tM
    This clip is from an actual show, but someone just retitled it to be funny.
    (notice how the whole audience is female, as if there are no female pedos?)
    But it’s only when pedo’s or others see child pornography that it magically harms the child over and over again. I don’t know about all of you, but that logic seems like…. BULLSHIT.

    • 7.1
      Scary Devil Monastery

      That’s because it IS bullshit.

      One swedish blogger (Oscar Swarz) investigated the new swedish child porn laws and fund that at the core of the current definition of child pornography there was a very large bundle of arguments hitherto used by puritans to discredit ordinary porn. In order to make this fit for a child pornography law they simply tacked on another few pages aimed at abolishing imagery of people below the age of 18 in the same way as certain religious books prohibit creating images of deities and saints.

      “Defendants” of anti-child-porn laws have a disturbing tendency not to care about the prevention of actual child abuse if that is the paid price for removing dirty pictures. Or even cartoons.

  7. 8
    Pedro

    As always Rick Falkvinge, another good article to read.

    P.S: i also wrote something to you, hope you got it.

  8. 9
    Glunka

    Once again Rick goes all BS.
    As mos of us know Rick doesn’t have anything against people spreading childporn all over the net.
    Fact is that th Swedish Pirate Party lost a LOT of votes because of Ricks wish to let chidporn flow free on the net.

    • 9.1
      Anonymous

      It would be easy to say “Kill the pedophiles!!” But that just means we would end up in the same
      circumstances the next time a power hungry politician wants to censor general purpose
      computing and the net.
      This is a real discussion that needs to happen. Are we really sure that child sexuality and
      pedophilia have been conclusively studied? Or are we just making laws because we THINK
      it is sick? Are we sure about the terminology that government and private special interest groups
      use are accurate, or are they using Newspeak? What about the growing definition of child porn?
      It amazes me that people still trust the governments and private entities when we see them
      broadening their scope of censorship.

    • 9.2
      Scary Devil Monastery

      I could as well make a good case that people like you are all in favor of real child abusers getting away scot-free. In very real practice, anyone defending current swedish CP laws ARE on the side pf pedophiles.

      Aside from this, all Rick did was quote an actual Ifpi boss when said boss was expressing ghoulish delight over Child Pornography”.

      That you think this is BS only tells me you are here for an entirely different agenda. Whether that is because you agree with Johan Shlüter that “child porn is great” or whether you just don’t like pirates I’ll leave unsaid.

  9. [...] Le lobby du copyright aime la pédopornographie qui leur permet de défendre leur bout de beefsteack. [...]

  10. [...] critically think when they hear either term but that appears to be the fact. This is the reason the copyright lobby loves child pornography: The date was May 27, 2007, and the man was Johan Schlüter, head of the Danish Anti-Piracy Group [...]

  11. [...] First of all, references – the law is here. You will be sent to jail for refusing to give up encryption keys, regardless of whether you have them or not. Five years if it’s a terrorism investigation (or child porn, apparently), two years otherwise. It’s fascinating – there are four excuses that keep coming back for every single dismantling of democracy. It’s terrorism, child porn, file sharing, and organized crime. You cannot fight these by dismantling civil liberties – they’re just used as convenient excuses. [...]

  12. [...] se boriti protiv ovih stvari ograničavajući građanske slobode – njih samo koriste kao pogodan izgovor za uništavanje ljudskih sloboda. Dakle, zamislite vašu reakciju kada policija konfiskuje vašu [...]

  13. [...] First of all, references – the law is here. You will be sent to jail for refusing to give up encryption keys, regardless of whether you have them or not. Five years of jail if it’s a terrorism investigation (or child porn, apparently), two years otherwise. It’s fascinating – there are four excuses that keep coming back for every single dismantling of democracy. It’s terrorism, child porn, file sharing, and organized crime. You cannot fight these by dismantling civil liberties – they’re just used as convenient excuses. [...]

  14. [...] is a reason the copyright industry loves child pornography. This reason. It opens the door to [...]

  15. [...] is a reason the copyright industry loves child pornography. This reason. It opens the door to [...]

  16. [...] such as Child Pornography is illegal or own or distribute by anyone. Thus It’s clear that not only is there no lawful [...]

  17. [...] the problem: our governments are trying to find ways to censor the internet using #IPR and child pornography as an excuse. I’m not overly worried about them breaking the internet because alternatives [...]

  18. […] is a very controversial topic in many legislatures. The copyright industry has long pushed for websites containing child abuse images to be censored from the net at the ISP level, with the […]

  19. […] is a very controversial topic in many legislatures. The copyright industry has long pushed for websites containing child abuse images to be censored from the net at the ISP level, with the […]

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