What Does It Cost To Buy The Internet?

What does it cost to buy the Internet? I have the impression that the amount is sufficiently small to make it appear like a good investment. Now, the Internet has not been for sale in the traditional way, but appears to be open to monopolization by law. And this has happened in a relative calm and peace, since the critics of this behavior have been dismissed as just being interested in downloading music for free.

Martin gave a very good walkthrough of pirate policy to Sofia Hård. I’m reacting somewhat over his choice of words, that Sofia is “out of her depth” — because, after all, what she’s writing is what a lot of people think they know about pirates.

At the same time as pirate issues keep getting relegated to “you only want stuff for free”, the lobby organizations have been working diligently towards politicians and received legislation intended to help them — since all those pirates steal so much from them. Those things go kind of hand in hand: “pirates steal, give us this legislation”.

There has been a tenacious and conscious campaign through the years to make this illusion stick, and you can’t really blame any individual for it. Everybody is, so to say, a victim of this.

This is a translation of a Swedish article by Marie “Emma” Andersson. The Swedish original is here.

Lots of studies have been conducted over the years about the real facts with those thievous file sharers (Swedish Royal Institute of TechnologyHarvardNetherlandsNorwegian School of EconomicsUnited Kingdom). The latest in this choir is .SE (the domain registry) who also agree that file sharers buy the most. In the American industry’s own numbers, file sharers are not even mentioned any longer, because the industry doing remarkably well.

Somewhere close to this point, we need to understand that it was never about file sharing per se, and that this is what the Pirate Party and others have been trying to say all along. Because why would you try to keep driving this kind of legislation, if it

  • was not the problem you had claimed, and
  • you’re operating in an industry showing huge profits?

It can’t be disregarded much longer: it’s about dominating a market. It is about pushing through a legalized monopoly situation.

Many who work with investing in startups have addressed the problems if the copyright industry were to rule unchecked. Any business would be very happy about that position, in some way. Having the ability to totally rule a market, so that no new businesses can achieve traction, means a market where you yourself dictate the rules for what people are supposed to be buying.

It’s not like there haven’t been and still are different ways to counteract file sharing — if this is indeed what you want. For some time, businesses have had access to the DMCA for reporting copyright monopoly violations of different kinds. But interestingly, this law is being used to a large extent to prevent legal competition, as Google reported a few years ago.

Thus, the DMCA gives a window of opportunity, one that is being actively used and exploited as a privilege, to prevent new businesses from being established online for a certain time. The proposed SOPA law takes that privilege to extreme heights since the established industry would be able to outlaw new businesses entirely.

There are also other things that give the same effects: the ACTA agreement has been criticized (well, the leaked material at least, as the entire process is conducted in secret) for strangling innovation and the chance of small businesses to gain footholds in the digital market. There, trade agreements are being used to force new legislation in other countries.

It’s just business, nothing personal, and is actually quite unrelated to file sharing. Besides, the business angle is just one aspect of the myriad of more or less serious problems created in society today by this lobby, without it even being put into question.

All of this through successful marketing and smart, yet lying, campaigns in newspapers. In the fight for owning the business opportunities of the Internet, lots of things have been sacrificed. Freedom of speech, not the least. Innovation and research. Democracy construction. Generations of creative people have been conned into believing that there is an enemy in the file sharer – in their fans and opportunity for a future paycheck.

It’s about the Internet, about our lives and fundamental rights, about democracy, about the development of society and it sounds so damn pretentious to say out loud that it’s almost embarrassing. That’s an A+ for the copyright industries who have even succeeded in making me tone down the sense of the moment’s urgency. But the problems don’t diminish for that.

The copyright industry has bought the Internet through legislation. Bought it from politicians who have felt it to be enough of a motivation that “some teenager is downloading a track of music for free”.


  1. PiratGurra

    Well, the proponents of industrialism were probably treated in the same way; “You just want things for less money, you cheapskates!”. But how many of us would like to go back to pre-industrialized times today? Think in the same way 30 to 40 years into the future. Our children and grand-children would never forgive us if we don’t stand up for letting new technology reform the laws and the various industries now and then.

  2. Yazoo

    But there are even bigger threats to internet today. The fact that many western (!) countries are investigating if the net could be equipped with an “off”-switch is probably the largest.

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