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Finland Is Crowdsourcing Its New Copyright Law

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the power-to-the-people dept.

Government 103

An anonymous reader writes "Internet activists in Finland, upset with the country's strict copyright laws, are ready to take advantage of the country's promise to vote on any citizen-proposed bill that reaches 50,000 signatures. Digital rights group Common Sense in Copyright has proposed sweeping changes to Finland's Lex Karpela, a 2006 amendment to the Finnish copyright law that more firmly criminalized digital piracy. Under it, 'countless youngsters have been found guilty of copyright crimes and sentenced to pay thousands, in some cases hundreds of thousands, of euros in punitive damages to the copyright organizations.' The proposal to fix copyright is the best-rated and most-commented petition on the Open Ministry site."

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Good luck with that, thieves. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42678753)

I purpose the death penalty for convicted data molestors.

Re:Good luck with that, thieves. (4, Funny)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#42678787)

I turtose the death penalty for convicted meta colestors.

FTFY

Re:Good luck with that, thieves. (1)

taktoa (1995544) | about a year ago | (#42679337)

I don't get it.

Re:Good luck with that, thieves. (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#42679433)

Grammar and context [xkcd.com] ... pay attention to them.

What if they "fix" it in an incompatible way? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42678779)

They can fix and improve and change as much as they want. The moment it is out and the US doesnt like it, starts accusing Finland of "theft" and threatens painful trade sanctions, they will have to revert it back or face consequences more severe than putting up with the current copyright.

Copyright is simply too valuable for the few influential stakeholders to be allowed to be decided democratically.

Re:What if they "fix" it in an incompatible way? (5, Interesting)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#42678829)

They can fix and improve and change as much as they want. The moment it is out and the US doesnt like it, starts accusing Finland of "theft" and threatens painful trade sanctions, they will have to revert it back or face consequences more severe than putting up with the current copyright.

Copyright is simply too valuable for the few influential stakeholders to be allowed to be decided democratically.

What more US can do that has not already done to Finland? I mean, look... isn't enough they pushed Elop as the Nokia head? (grin: it's Obama's fault, isn't it?)

With a AAA [guardian.co.uk] credit rating, the only nasty thing would scare the Finnish people would be the Russian to cut their gas [energydelta.org] (100% dependence on Russia).

Re:What if they "fix" it in an incompatible way? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42678905)

With a AAA [guardian.co.uk] credit rating, the only nasty thing would scare the Finnish people would be the Russian to cut their gas [energydelta.org] (100% dependence on Russia).

And Russia is rather unlikely to do this just because USA wants it. Anything that distances Finland from the west and brings closer to Russia is going to be perfectly fine for the Russians.

Re:What if they "fix" it in an incompatible way? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42678919)

With 5 nuclear plants, Finland is not at all dependent on Russian gas.

Re:What if they "fix" it in an incompatible way? (3, Informative)

bfandreas (603438) | about a year ago | (#42678947)

It is. Gas is also used for heating. Amongst other things.
Europe is also highly dependant on Gazprom. And they have been known to throttle their pipelines in winter if something wasn't to their liking.

Re:What if they "fix" it in an incompatible way? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42679047)

10% of total energy consumption ( http://www.maakaasu.fi/sisalto/statistics ) is hardly "being dependent".

Re:What if they "fix" it in an incompatible way? (2)

Donwulff (27374) | about a year ago | (#42682237)

This thread of conversation seems to already have gone down the tubes, and I don't mean gas-tubes. I think most people meant it as jokes, but when future schoolchildren will Google it up they'll find this Slashdot discussion, and then update Wikipedia accordingly (Think of the children!), so to try to put the record straight on a few things...

Finland has 4 operating energy production reactors, one research/medical reactor that's in the process of being shut down (Turns out using nuclear power for good [www.vtt.fi] is too expensive). A fifth power-generating reactor has been under construction since 2005, and each year the expected finishing date seems to slip forward... Current projected construction cost of 8,5 billion euros cements it firmly as world's fourth most expensive [10think.com] construction project. That is, if it's finished on time, of course.

This all of course is slightly moot, as about 17% of Finland's total energy needs [motiva.fi] are met by the existing nuclear plants even at nearly 100% utilization. Likewise, natural gas covers only less than 10% of Finland's energy use. Predictably, like in most of the world top place is held by oil at 24%, mostly gasoline for vehicles. Second place is wood and derivatives at about 22%, then nuclear's 17%. Even coal at 11% beats out natural gas.

Although Finland is far from dependent on natural gas, the original assertion about Russia is still mostly true: Most of Finland's oil use and almost half of energy use overall are met by imports from Russia, or through Russia. The reason for this is clear from looking at the map; Finland shares land-border mostly with Russia, and the Baltic Sea is a difficult and long way to navigate for large tankers. Finland has no domestic sources of fossil energy, yet it's northern location means heating is required most of the year, making energy imports vital.

Yet discussions of Finland's energy dependency or lack of it are mostly moot for this discussion, too. Laws are passed and changed by politicians, who act like politicians do. Even in Finland, they will be willing to do anything at all that rewards them with a mention in positive light alongside whoever happens to be in charge in US at the time for example. That's pure political capital, that can be cased later on for a comfy job at some organization or other whose name begins with "World" once Russia decides to cut those energy imports.

Though to be honest, general cynicism aside, I've not seen recent statistics but I believe in Finland too most people who have or imagine they will have "valuable intellectual property", and that's most of them, believe the current laws work in their favor (Certainly artists will usually state something to the effect that they're not strict enough as is). And those with most influence will have enough money to just buy those albums, or pay people to shut up when they're caught using someone else's material.

Re:What if they "fix" it in an incompatible way? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#42678983)

With 5 nuclear plants, Finland is not at all dependent on Russian gas.

It's not depending 100% on electric energy.
But, you know, it's quite hard to make rubber from uranium, even harder to become the highest profitable tyre manufacturer [wikipedia.org] in the world.

Re:What if they "fix" it in an incompatible way? (4, Funny)

Viol8 (599362) | about a year ago | (#42679013)

"it's quite hard to make rubber from uranium,"

Its not particularly easy to make it from methane.

Re:What if they "fix" it in an incompatible way? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#42679059)

"it's quite hard to make rubber from uranium,"

Its not particularly easy to make it from methane.

You reckon? Care to google for "BuNa rubbers"? Zy germanz used to make it back in 1935 - granted, they started from coal, which made the thing a bit harder.

Re:What if they "fix" it in an incompatible way? (1)

Viol8 (599362) | about a year ago | (#42679671)

I said not easy , I didn't say impossible.

Re:What if they "fix" it in an incompatible way? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#42680161)

I said not easy , I didn't say impossible.

Well, I guess that's almost settles it. 'Cause I was let to understand that making rubber from natural gas is on the same order of difficulty as making rubber from uranium.

Re:What if they "fix" it in an incompatible way? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42679421)

rub uranus?

Re:What if they "fix" it in an incompatible way? (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#42681491)

With 5 nuclear plants, Finland is not at all dependent on Russian gas.

yeah of course not. we can just offset the energy consumption from the lost gas with electricity bought from russian nuclear plants!
we could import more coal, oil and whatever to offset it in reality though.. but those five nuclear plants don't really cover all that much.. btw don't order any french generators if you want them on time.

and before usa could demand any sanctions.. eu would need to kick finland out before that and they damn well wouldn't do it over any copyright stuff.

usa isn't the largest possible loser here anyways.. it's the ~20 people making a living from the silly copyright fake enforcement. it's fake because everybody is copying as they used to and they're bullying people by threatening to take them to court for 100k+ if they don't settle for 1000euros out of court. THAT IS BULLSHIT AND NOT THE FUCKING WAY WE DO JUSTICE IN FINLAND!

it's especially bullshit as you can beat a guy up and get off with paying less. yes, get a torrent and these dicks argue that you should pay more in penalties than if you just went to the artists house and beat them up so badly they'd need to spend a month in hospital. and it's these same dicks who sue people for downloading songs that these same people aren't asking youtube to remove, because apparently these same dicks only work once a month.

Re:What if they "fix" it in an incompatible way? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42679681)

They can fix and improve and change as much as they want. The moment it is out and the US doesnt like it, starts accusing Finland of "theft" and threatens painful trade sanctions, they will have to revert it back or face consequences more severe than putting up with the current copyright.

Copyright is simply too valuable for the few influential stakeholders to be allowed to be decided democratically.

What more US can do that has not already done to Finland? I mean, look... isn't enough they pushed Elop as the Nokia head? (grin: it's Obama's fault, isn't it?)

With a AAA [guardian.co.uk] credit rating, the only nasty thing would scare the Finnish people would be the Russian to cut their gas [energydelta.org] (100% dependence on Russia).

Yes, all gas is coming from Russia, but You failed to notice that gas is only a minor player in Finnish energy production. 9.6 % of Finnish energy comes from gas. It can also easily be replaced with other sources if need be.

Re:What if they "fix" it in an incompatible way? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#42680145)

Yes, all gas is coming from Russia, but You failed to notice that gas is only a minor player in Finnish energy production. 9.6 % of Finnish energy comes from gas. It can also easily be replaced with other sources if need be.

So, are you saying the Finnish people are stupid and buy the rest of 90.4% of gas with no reason, 'cause they actually don't need it at all?

Re:What if they "fix" it in an incompatible way? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42680683)

Umm.. I think he's saying that 90.4% of energy used in Finland comes from other sources, i.e. NOT gas. So all in all, gas is not that significant for the Finns.

Re:What if they "fix" it in an incompatible way? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42680973)

Hint: Finland got its AAA rating from american companies.

Re:What if they "fix" it in an incompatible way? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42678925)

Do you really think the US would trade sanction an EU state? I doubt it. They may face pressure from the EU itself but the last thing the EU needs is to start pissing off the states that actually pay their own way.

Re:What if they "fix" it in an incompatible way? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42680089)

Probably not, they'd just skip ahead to the invasion.

Re:What if they "fix" it in an incompatible way? (1)

fredprado (2569351) | about a year ago | (#42679811)

The best way to assure that things will go down the drain quickly is to keep from pushing back when the stakeholders try to push their way because of a misguided sensation of futility.

The possibility, high as it may be, that fighting back won't be enough is no justification to stay put and let things burn.

Re:What if they "fix" it in an incompatible way? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42680869)

According to the summary, they promise to vote on it. That doesn't mean they promise to vote for it. So it can happen that the new law is brought to the parliament, and the parliament just says no.

Re:What if they "fix" it in an incompatible way? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42681415)

That is what the USA is hoping for... it's taking one country at a time, and win. But what if Finland calls for help "Fight for Sovereignty! Fight for Freedom! Who's with us!?" New Zealand is already in a bit of a grumpy mood re US interference in its internal affairs. Sweden knows the entire Assange thing is just to appease the US government, a means to extradite him as a "gift".

MSM are also playing by putting way too much emphasis on that Error-303 List the Trade Guys' Agitprop department releases.

Fixing the copyright and patent system needs to be moved to the democratic (not Trade Agreement Backrooms) platform that everyone is supposed to cherish.

Re: What if they "fix" it in an incompatible way? (1)

purefan (1667679) | about a year ago | (#42684295)

I still applaud the initiative, it is passing laws for the nation, by the nation and finland has some very smart folks, i dont think they will change the law in a contra-productive way and if the 'almighty uncle sam' doesnt like it but finland pushes forward maybe its because they can do without the US, this is not a couple dozen guys dictating laws, this is thousands of people

Re: What if they "fix" it in an incompatible way? (1)

purefan (1667679) | about a year ago | (#42684531)

I still applaud the initiative, it is passing laws for the nation, by the nation and finland has some very smart folks, i dont think they will change the law in a contra-productive way and if the 'almighty uncle sam' doesnt like it but finland pushes forward maybe its because they can do without the US

Brown Trousers Time (4, Insightful)

bfandreas (603438) | about a year ago | (#42678781)

If this is even remotely successful then a lot of lobbyists will get their knickers in a twist.
The chances of this being ratified should be rather slim due to:
-international treaties
-legality of the law without having to rewrite other laws
-being watered down in parliament
...

I would guess a lot of lawyers will work on this thing. So chances are this might be the best written piece of legislation never to be signed.

the common democratic illness is that we vote for politians based on how well they look in a suit, how loud they shout their simple truths and how long ago they had their last sex scandal. Should be credibility, competence and merit. Oh well.

Re:Brown Trousers Time (5, Interesting)

Apotekaren (904220) | about a year ago | (#42678807)

As for the watering down, if the proposal (a complete law text) passes the 50,000 vote mark, the Finnish parliament has to vote on it AS IS.

Re:Brown Trousers Time (0)

bfandreas (603438) | about a year ago | (#42678891)

It has to? Wow! What kind of majority is needed to pass it? Is there even a slim chance for that?
Now the question is if the general population will even care why they turn it down. If the vote is "no" and not enough people really care then all this is in vain.

Re:Brown Trousers Time (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42678997)

Europe is not USA.
You say no - you get crowds on the streets. You say no to crowds - you get Riots.

Re:Brown Trousers Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42679209)

But this is Finland, the land of sheeps who will lap up practically anything the government says. Sometimes they complain a bit about it but in the end, they keep voting the same old&young cronies again. Or the populist joke of quasi-criminals, drunks and clowns that is the True Finns party who still lack the balls to take charge at running the government instead of shouting complaints from the opposition how everything the government does is shit (not that it isn't, but they wouldn't fare any better at it from what I gather from hearing their stuff).

And the bit about cabinet being responsible to parliament (which has the power to dissolve the cabinet) is a joke, because the parties in cabinet are always holding collective majority in parliament. This means that the real decisions about everything happen during the coalition negotiations between parties after parliament elections, and everything else is just doing the motions as coalition does pretty much whatever it pleases, 99% ignoring the shouts from opposition.

Re:Brown Trousers Time (2)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#42679801)

Europe is not USA.
You say no - you get crowds on the streets. You say no to crowds - you get Riots.

That's more of a southern Europe thing. Finns are actually quite mild what comes to demonstrations or riots. We might rant a bit and then inoffensively accept the government decisions.

Re:Brown Trousers Time (3, Informative)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#42680231)

Well, Finland is only 5.4 million people so if they can hit the 50k mark it already means 1% of the population cares. That said it looks like the site has just recently opened and the highest vote is slightly over 1k now, so a long way to go.

Re:Brown Trousers Time (1)

bfandreas (603438) | about a year ago | (#42681659)

I really hope this has at least some sort of result. That should send at least some ripples through the EU.

Re:Brown Trousers Time (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about a year ago | (#42681861)

so if its a flawed motion which take no regard of the consequentials eg

-international treaties
-legality of the law without having to rewrite other laws

Its going to get voted down or even removed as invalid - people need to read and understand Citrine, Roberts or erskine and may to understand how parliamentary systems work.

Re:Brown Trousers Time (1)

TENTH SHOW JAM (599239) | about a year ago | (#42684679)

Odds are the language in the treaties will be along the lines of "must have copyright laws." If the country continues to have copyright laws but these laws have sane punishments built in (eg, steal a song that is available from itunes for a Euro, be fined 3 Euros. Distribute a song 10 times that is available from itunes for a Euro be fined 3 x 10 Euros)

The general gist of the law they are proposing is to make the punishment fit the crime. There may be a wishlist for shortened copyright periods and registration of all copyrightable work, but they probably won't make the draft.

Re:Brown Trousers Time (4, Interesting)

Pecisk (688001) | about a year ago | (#42678855)

International treaties is the key. Why do you think all copyright legislation has started as treaties? Because no voter in sane mind would force such law upon it's country. But voter doesn't understand, doesn't bother him - at least it's regular thinking of politicians these days. So they agree to treaty, then just come home and say "we done anything we could, but this must be a law now".

Re:Brown Trousers Time (1)

bfandreas (603438) | about a year ago | (#42678885)

They are the back door how many bad ideas concerning copyright laws have been pushed throughout the world. Most of them came from the US.
Like the insane UK extradiction treaties one has to wonder WHY the national parliaments actually do such an unneccessary thing. The US certainly is not at fault to ask other countries for such thing. But parliaments of these countries certainly are at fault when acting against the interests of their own people.

Depending on your lawgiving constitution it may be that national parliament can void an international treaty. Usually these have punitive clauses for non-compliance.
But in my opinion National Law > International Treaty.

Re:Brown Trousers Time (2)

Dodgy G33za (1669772) | about a year ago | (#42678935)

It is not surprising though. The only thing the US leads the world on now is IP, so they want the world to protect it. Back when they were a fledgling state they were quite happy to steal IP from Europe and designed their laws accordingly (i.e. they refused to recognise European patents for quite a few years).

The mystery is why everyone else is colluding with the US on IP laws. The power they have is that of a school yard bully. The moment someone stands up to them it is all over since it is paid for with other peoples money.

Re:Brown Trousers Time (1)

Dodgy G33za (1669772) | about a year ago | (#42678911)

You join a treaty. You leave a treaty. Simple. Only politicians hide behind these simple facts.

Re:Brown Trousers Time (2)

Pecisk (688001) | about a year ago | (#42678971)

And there comes in that phrase "it's not that simple", because, frankly, it isn't. Usually agreement with these IP treaties are binded with other trade treaties. For example, US say - "hey, you have nice steel export to us. That would be a shame if tariffs went up suddenly, wouldn't it". Because exports are practically only way how countries can repay their debts and imports. So US uses it's "biggest consumer" card now and then to force IP regime around the world.

Surprisingly while I don't see it as good thing, I must agree that part of this is possible because politicians doesn't have a clue what exactly IP is, how it works, and how drastic agreements practically destroy any chance of having normal copyright/inovation industry at home. US does what they think is right for them - and I can't really blame them, because it's all down to hard money out there. Essentially such free wheeling has been posibble because there's was active anti-IP lobby. However things are changing - slowly, but still - and lot of IT professional organizations chimes in. Because stakes are high.

Re:Brown Trousers Time (3, Interesting)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#42678969)

International treaties is the key. Why do you think all copyright legislation has started as treaties? Because no voter in sane mind would force such law upon it's country. But voter doesn't understand, doesn't bother him - at least it's regular thinking of politicians these days. So they agree to treaty, then just come home and say "we done anything we could, but this must be a law now".

And? If, by popular demand, the law is amended so that gets incompatible with the signed treaty, you think is impossible for the country to walk back from that treaty? Think again [duhaime.org]

Another important distinction between a treaty and a conventional contract is that a treaty lacks any enforcement teeth.

It is not like [wikipedia.org] US never [yahoo.com] broke [huffingtonpost.com] a treaty [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Brown Trousers Time (1)

Pecisk (688001) | about a year ago | (#42679001)

They can. But there will be consequences. Unfortunately US is one of biggest consumers and no politician in it's right mind would want to piss off it and face problems with exports to US. But exports gives you jobs and allows you to repay debt you took to finance roads, schools, etc.

It's not that simple.

Re:Brown Trousers Time (4, Informative)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#42679217)

They can. But there will be consequences. Unfortunately US is one of biggest consumers and no politician in it's right mind would want to piss off it and face problems with exports to US. But exports gives you jobs and allows you to repay debt you took to finance roads, schools, etc.

It's not that simple.

Uh, oh. Does it wake you up that US markets makes 4.9% of Finland's export [wikipedia.org] ? Comparing with the exports to Russia of 9.2%, Germany of 10% and Sweden to 11.8%, it seems quite low.

Also, did you know that Finland has less population than New York City? I don't know why I feel all of them will survive quite well to an upset US.

Re:Brown Trousers Time (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | about a year ago | (#42680927)

Uh, oh. Does it wake you up that US markets makes 4.9% of Finland's export [wikipedia.org] ? Comparing with the exports to Russia of 9.2%, Germany of 10% and Sweden to 11.8%, it seems quite low.

Also, did you know that Finland has less population than New York City? I don't know why I feel all of them will survive quite well to an upset US.

Til somebody claims there's oil under Finland, you mean. Course, it'll be like Iraqi WMDs. Just a claim...

Re:Brown Trousers Time (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#42684891)

Uh, oh. Does it wake you up that US markets makes 4.9% of Finland's export [wikipedia.org] ? Comparing with the exports to Russia of 9.2%, Germany of 10% and Sweden to 11.8%, it seems quite low.

Also, did you know that Finland has less population than New York City? I don't know why I feel all of them will survive quite well to an upset US.

Til somebody claims there's oil under Finland, you mean. Course, it'll be like Iraqi WMDs. Just a claim...

You suggest the US is stupid enough to go to war for whatever "piracy" may be caused by 5.3 millions people?
'Cause Finland still exists after Winter War [wikipedia.org]

The Soviets possessed more than three times as many soldiers as the Finns, thirty times as many aircraft, and a hundred times as many tanks.

Re:Brown Trousers Time (1)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about a year ago | (#42681883)

I think the employees of legal poker sites in the UK who got arrested in transit through the US would disagree

What does the treaty actually SAY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42680485)

Because if, for example, it says the author must have copyrights for 79 years, then give them the copyright for 78 years.

But if it also doesn't say that it must be a crime to breech copyright, then make it a legal to breech copyright after 10 years and make suing for damages require proof of the actual loss to the copyright owner.

Re:Brown Trousers Time (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42678981)

Actually, I read though the proposal (and signed it). It seems to make a lot of sense, and it's really well thought out.

If this is even remotely successful then a lot of lobbyists will get their knickers in a twist.

The chances of this being ratified should be rather slim due to:

-international treaties

This isn't some teenage hacktivism, this is actually really well thought out modifications. The changes aren't huge, but still significant. The proposal also takes into account internation treaties and works within their restrictions.

-legality of the law without having to rewrite other laws

The suggestion specifically refers to other laws, and how the changes make it more compliant than the current version. They also seem to have touched upon points that have to have modifications.

-being watered down in parliament ...

ok, this I just learnt from the comment below, so credit wher credit is due

As for the watering down, if the proposal (a complete law text) passes the 50,000 vote mark, the Finnish parliament has to vote on it AS IS.

I would guess a lot of lawyers will work on this thing. So chances are this might be the best written piece of legislation never to be signed.

the common democratic illness is that we vote for politians based on how well they look in a suit, how loud they shout their simple truths and how long ago they had their last sex scandal. Should be credibility, competence and merit. Oh well.

I agree that politics can be too populistic, but in general I think it's works quite well here. As for the proposal, I'm very positively suprised at the quality, the moderation and the execution of it.

Re:Brown Trousers Time (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#42683969)

-international treaties -legality of the law without having to rewrite other laws

Hmm. Care to elaborate why these two should pose a problem?

Watershed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42678789)

The one watershed I would be very very surprised to see them achieve would be to free Steamboat Willie at long last.

Re:Watershed (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | about a year ago | (#42680941)

NOT gonna happen. DisneyCorp is gonna milk that sucker forever.

Il live in Finland... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42678793)

but officially I'm still just vacationing here. I'm harassing my girlfriend to sign the thing though.

No way in hell (3, Insightful)

qbast (1265706) | about a year ago | (#42678817)

Sure, you can crowdsource and gather signatures all you want - have fun, at least you will feel more in control. All you get is to submit your proposition for parliament to vote on. At which point the same lobbyists and paid politicians as usual make the decision. There is no way in hell this is going to pass.

Re:No way in hell (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42678963)

Then we know who to not vote for in the next elections.

Finland is a small country and change can happen quickly here. Look at our last elections, True Finns became 3rd largest party, putting stop to old parties "good brother" clubs.

That's not our proudest moment, though (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42686655)

In the last elections, The Basic Finns (A populistic, nationalistic party that decided to adopt "Finns" as their official English name, which is outrageously arrogant... So they're usually called either True Finns or Basic Finns) really got a ton of votes in 2011. They had snarky one-liners about most things but did everything they could to avoid taking any clear stances or suggesting any concrete policies and managed to brand their complete lack of expertise as "thinking outside the box"... In effect, they were a caricature of everything that's wrong in politics and yet 20% of people voted them in order to destroy the straw-man status quo... When they won, the only policy on which they had taken a clear stance (anti-EU) was something that other parties couldn't agree to (which was obvious from the beginning), so they had nothing else to make compromises on and thus had to leave themselves out of the government. In municipal elections of 2012, they still had no policies but managed to convince their voters that people should vote on EU even on municipal level and thus retained some of their voters.

So, yeah. I wouldn't use our version of tea party as an example of a proud moment in our democracy.

Re:No way in hell (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42680229)

Yeah, we should just stop making the world a better place, because there's no way in hell that'll ever happen.

In fact, we should just curl up and die right now.

Re:No way in hell (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | about a year ago | (#42680971)

Yeah, we should just stop making the world a better place, because there's no way in hell that'll ever happen.

In fact, we should just curl up and die right now.

Naw. Just do a Snake Plissken [imdb.com] and hit the reset button.

No, this is incorrect (2)

emakinen (875208) | about a year ago | (#42678825)

There is an citizen's initiative to change the law and if they manage to gather 50000 signatures, the parliament must vote on it. No crowdsourcing (at least any more) and slim change of this initiative passing through the parliament and actually becoming a law.

FInland? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42678833)

Cuntland. Fuck this foreign shit.

Re:FInland? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42679025)

Too right! Australia! Australia! All those losers in other countries can get fucked. Australia's the best country mate.

The copyright law has a good form! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42678859)

Finnish copyright law has very flexible permissions for private use.

1) Few copies of legally obtained copyrighted material can be copied for private use
2) Private use includes family members and best friends.
3) In court the "few copies" has been seen to be 10 copies
4) You are allowed to outsource the copying if needed (you can give copyrighted material to third party what copy them for you and give original and all copies back).
5) Downloading from Internet isn't illegal, it is just admonished, but sharing (uploading) is criminalized.
6) You can brake the DRM if it is necessary to get music to be heard, video to be seen or text to visible (etc)
7) You can transform content to another if it is required to get content available. (meaning you can make a copy of DVD as VHS if other has only VHS player. Or transcode WMA to MP3 if only having a MP3 player).
8) If original media is destroyed, stolen or lost, all copies needs to be destroyed.
9) You can not make new copies from copies or release them to any other third party (non-family members, not best friends)

In Finland you are allowed to borrow a CD music from library and make those 10 copies for you, to your family members and best friend. Any of those copies can be a version in MP3 files, a CD or WMA etc, as long the amount is same.
You can as well buy a latest movie/music from store with your 4 friends, make 3 copies and divide the music price by 4. Meaning 20 euros music is just 5 euros for each of one.
You can as well rent a movie for few euros and make a copy of that for private use.
You are allowed to record movies and shows from TV and make few copies of them as well for private use.

But all this has a cost.
You need to pay a small tax in every empty CD, DVD, HDD, SSD and now on memory sticks as well. It is about 15 euros from HDD what is bigger than 750GB
About a 15 cent on empty DVD and about 10 cent on empty CD.
Every importer is demanded by law to pay that and that is transferred to device/media prices.

But people are mad about it!
Many are mad of it because "I pay more about empty media/storage than I should" and many even promote their ideas by saying "I only store my own music and my own photos and videos to those medias". And still most doesn't even understand that spending a few euros a year for that tax, you can make as many copies for private use from legally obtained copyrighted material as you wish.

Teens usually listen same music with their friends. Instead them needed to buy a own CD (2 x 20 euros) to CD-player and then again MP3 version (2 x 10-15 euros for album) phone/mp3-player, they can together buy just a single CD, make copies of it and transcode music as MP3 files in 20 euros.

How about lex karpela?
Lex Karpela was a addition to copyright law what criminalized braking strong DRM. That what was "strong DRM" was not written at all. Later two man went and wanted to test that law in court. Other one made a DVD with a CSS encryption in it. Then borrowed it to friend, what made a copy of that disk by braking the CSS. And then the copyright owned (who borrowed DVD to friend) sued friend to court demanding 5 cent penalties.
The whole case when to higher court and back, and it was given a judgment criminalizing the friend who broke the encryption because it was not possible "in mistake". The problem was what many doesn't understand, the friend made DVD was not made legally public, it was a personal DVD with DRM.
The copyright law demands the copyrighted material is published legally. Meaning it is that companies what presents, plays, prints etc media, can not control citizens rights to share information and cultural material.
But when a private person makes a own media, she or he owns the copyright for it but just by borrowing it to friend, doesn't mean he or she published it. So it isn't legally obtained material in the first place unless you ask permission from your friend "can I make a copy to myself from your made movie what you just borrowed to me?".

And court didn't either like that these idiots went to test the law as a joke in public. The judgement was done only for their case, not for other cases after that.
And supreme court didn't take the case in, because it was abusing the law in the first place by these friends.

Why do Finland has this tax?
It was written to copyright law after C-tape became widely adopted and C-tape players became widely use as well. People didn't anymore buy music as they copied it from radio or copied what friends have bought. Instead making copying, a social sharing, illegal it was presented and planned to add a small fee for every empty C-tape and all collected tax money was shared between all artists who belonged to this special organization TEOSTO. It was a to compensate losses what artists suffered from people sharing their copyrighted material.

And all those cases have been about situations where few persons have maintained a DC++ HUB or shared trough bittorrent to unknown people gigabytes of copyrighted material from software to movies and music. The Finnish copyright law doesn't allow sharing copies to unknown persons, only between family members and best friends. It isn't morally right either that someone would make hundreds of copies of others copyrighted material for all who wants, as then copyright owner doesn't anymore has copyright for that material and decision how to use it. It is morally illegal and legal by law. But many kids, teens and now young adults don't understand that what is other, isn't yours. But morally it is right that you should have change to share the experience and what you buy with your family and best friends as that is social life, sharing things.

Re:The copyright law has a good form! (1)

Fri13 (963421) | about a year ago | (#42678899)

To add some correction:

1) Few copies of legally obtained copyrighted material can be copied for private use

Means getting the material from other sources like a P2P networks, DC hubs and so on, are not from legal sources and they can not be copied, borrowed or given to a other people, not even for your family and friends.

Of course you can make a own P2P network among your friends or your family and share data with them, as those technologies are not illegal (and copyright law doesn't say they would be) but the actions using those tools illegally is.... illegal. :)

So as long your source is legally obtained and published, copying for private use is legal.

Re:The copyright law has a good form! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42678949)

> 5) Downloading from Internet isn't illegal, it is just admonished, but sharing (uploading) is criminalized.

It is actually illegal, there is just no punishment from it written to the law. But at least in theory, the owner of the downloaded material could still sue you by claiming financial loss due to your downloading.

Re:The copyright law has a good form! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42679967)

there is nothing in law about downloading. It isnt illegal but neither legal.

Re:The copyright law has a good form! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42680081)

there is nothing in law about downloading. It isnt illegal but neither legal.

It's illegal. The default is that making a copy of a work under copyright protection is illegal and the law then enumerates the exceptions to this.

One of the exceptions is that you are allowed to make a copy for personal use from a legal copy (this, by the way doesn't extend to computer software, no personal use free copies there) of the work. The copies that you find on random download sites are usually not legal copies, so it's illegal to download them.

One of the weaknesses of the law is that it's pretty difficult for the ordinary people to determine whether a given copy that they find on the internet is legal or not. But the law is clear: if the copy is legal, the download is also, but if it's not, then downloading it is illegal.

Re:The copyright law has a good form! (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | about a year ago | (#42680641)

I don't know about Finnish law, but in Hungarian law it's legal to download, because the average person has no obligation to research the copyright status of things found on the internet.
On the other hand uploading is illegal, but torrent users haven't been sued yet, only tracker operators.

Re:The copyright law has a good form! (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#42679159)

5) Downloading from Internet isn't illegal, it is just admonished, but sharing (uploading) is criminalized.

So Finns should download from Usenet instead of using P2P, or use a hacked BitTorrent client that doesn't upload.

But all this has a cost.
You need to pay a small tax in every empty CD, DVD, HDD, SSD and now on memory sticks as well. It is about 15 euros from HDD what is bigger than 750GB
About a 15 cent on empty DVD and about 10 cent on empty CD.

How do you get your cut of that? Say you are a random person who picks up a guitar, learns how to play it and releases an album (self published). How do you claim your share of this tax?

Re:The copyright law has a good form! (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | about a year ago | (#42680443)

How do you get your cut of that? Say you are a random person who picks up a guitar, learns how to play it and releases an album (self published). How do you claim your share of this tax?

You can apply for an exemption [hyvitysmaksu.fi] on the tax for whatever media you decide to publish your work on. This assumes that the media would be used exclusively for works you own, such as CD or DVD, and you'd avoid the few cents of tax on each (at least, on -R media, but obviously not on -RW media).

If you were to distribute digitally via the net or on pre-recorded memory sticks or suchlike, then you'd have to join one of these organizations [hyvitysmaksu.fi] to get compensated. Note, also, that you'd be unlikely to get very much unless you have a major hit on your hands. The total amount distributed is fairly small and almost half of it [hyvitysmaksu.fi] goes to "promotional" organizations rather than to the copyright royalty collectors.

Re:The copyright law has a good form! (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#42681683)

So you have to join a private organization to get paid. That is what I always object to about these laws.

Re:The copyright law has a good form! (1)

shoemilk (1008173) | about a year ago | (#42679223)

But all this has a cost.
You need to pay a small tax in every empty CD, DVD, HDD, SSD and now on memory sticks as well. It is about 15 euros from HDD what is bigger than 750GB About a 15 cent on empty DVD and about 10 cent on empty CD.

This is where the law COMPLETELY falls apart. This is absolutely and completely unacceptable. Who decides the breakdown of this collected tax? What about artists not in the golden tax guild, how do they get their share? How do we know it's going to the copyright holders period?

Damn right people are mad about it. I'd be pissed, too. America had that tax on blank tapes, too. There are special "music" blank cds that are more expensive because they have that tax as well, but in all frankness, fuck them if they want to tax my HDDs and SD cards because the might store backups of music I paid for.

We've let RIA* groups distort the conversation so much it almost physically hurts me. We should be debating how much jail time some dumbass gets for downloading some shit song that will be forgotten in two years, we should be debating how many years we need to shorten copyright to reign it back in to sane levels. Make copyright reasonable, say less than 15 years, hell make it single digit, and I'll join the line demanding infringers to serve time. While it's in the three digits, fuck off with your $15 tax so I can "share with my family". Song recorded before I was born will still be under copyright when I'm dead.

Re:The copyright law has a good form! (2)

Engeekneer (1564917) | about a year ago | (#42679347)

While the parent comment is mostly true, it is very much cherry picking the most positive facts about the copyright issues. It also unnecessarily condecending towards "normal people" who don't understand why things cost and what property is. More than that, the parent post is widely irrelevant to the whole copyright reform, almost offtopic. Those were not the issues being modified (except Lex Karpela).

The points addressed in the proposal were completely different, one of the points in the proposal was even that the "media tax" might have to increase when new methods and practices of sharing media become the norm.

While I am in favor of a larger copyright reform, we probably can't do that alone in Finland. However, this seems to introduce small, but very relevant steps to at least make the current situation more sane.

Re:The copyright law has a good form! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42679515)

1) Few copies of legally obtained copyrighted material can be copied for private use

Which is everything that doesn't have DRM. As in, almost nothing. Publishers/Artists that use DRM are given their share from those empty media.

Re:The copyright law has a good form! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42680397)

You are allowed to break the DRM and make the few copies.
DRM doesnt change the law and lex karpela has not changed those rights.

People of what TFA mentions, broke the law what has existed decades... they shared copyrighted material to unknown people. And the latest Pooh laptop case is first real case and there is investigations going did police do something wrong.

The problem what needs to be changed but can not, is copyright lifetime and penalties how losses are calculated. As it is unfair and unethical to demand hundreds of thousands from a few MP3 file what has been shared just for ten unknown person. Mathematically they are correct... morally not and that is the problem and law can not include rates for that, only limit them somehow.

Re:The copyright law has a good form! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42679829)

6) You can brake the DRM if it is necessary to get music to be heard, video to be seen or text to visible (etc)

However, if the DRM uses some form of the undefined "strong techinal protections", the only way how you can legally obtain a tool to break it is to write it yourself. After that, you can neither distribute the tool nor tell anyone how you made it. Because distributing equipment and computer software that can be used to circumvent "strong technical protection" of a copyrighted work is punishable by a fine or up to a year in prison (if it causes "significant" damage to the rights holder - another undefined thing in the law) and that extends to helping other people to construct such things.

As long as no one knows what "strong technical protections" are, you can't say that it's legal to break DRM in Finland.

Re:The copyright law has a good form! (2)

RivenAleem (1590553) | about a year ago | (#42680087)

It was a to compensate losses what artists suffered from people sharing their copyrighted material.

There a problem with this. They cannot prove that artists suffer due to piracy. It has been shown time and again that sharing people's songs among friends promotes the music and increases the chance that they will buy music in future and/or go to concerts.

Re:The copyright law has a good form! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42680243)

Note that this is not about removing copyright laws, only the additions made in 2006 called Lex Karpela.
Also first priority is to have more discussions about the laws.

Current laws with the additions have weirdness regarding streaming services (notably "TVKaista" which in court at the moment) and various other cases. For example, you can only record digital TV due "time shift" principle of private recording and online-library of TV shows would not be legal in same way..

One case notable difficult is use of online-materials in teaching which requires reporting each and every time material is used such showing videos from YouTube during class.

Also the punishments were made very harsh even for underaged people and home-search warrants were too easily available. So-called "ChisuGate" recently was notable case of this (here on Slashdot also).
Also similar to Germany there should be a limit of what is reasonable compensation in case of illegal copying.

Included is a point of giving more power to artists themselves to allow them set parallel licenses to copyrightable material.

There are plenty more cases there which are being addressed here.

For Finnish people, this can be read wholly and signed at: https://www.kansalaisaloite.fi/fi/aloite/70

Re:The copyright law has a good form! (1)

TranquilVoid (2444228) | about a year and a half ago | (#42687269)

8) If original media is destroyed, stolen or lost, all copies needs to be destroyed.

This strikes me as odd. If you make copies as a backup and then have to destroy the backup with the original... well it's not really a backup is it?

I'm just an american.... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42678863)

But hopefully some of my likeminded Finnish brethren can see about some sane wording, like no more than 14 year copyrights for corporations, and 28 year copyrights for individuals.

An additional worthwhile amendment would be: 'While copyrighted works created locally will be considered expired after 14-28 years, foreign copyrights will be respected up to their legally agreed upon terms, insofar as our locally produced copyrighted works are protected to the same foreign copyright limits.'

Basically allow your local culture to flourish by being able to build upon their own works within a generation, while limited foreign powers from building upon them for multiple lifetimes (as the global copyright agreements currently stand.) There probably needs to be some extra wording to allow fellow Finns protection in exporting derivative works while ensuring that said works cannot in turn have foreign derivatives licensed against them, perhaps at lower costs than the initial creative force would offer, but otherwise it'd be a good way to gain the benefit of sane copyright laws while handicapping those who would rather rely on lifetime intellectual property.

Re:I'm just an american.... (2)

Fri13 (963421) | about a year ago | (#42678933)

14 years for corporations would be good... As in that time your material is already done its purpose as cultural addition.
28 for individuals would be good as if you are artist/photographer/song writer etc you need to have little stronger copyright.

In 14 years a movie can either come a legendary or just "one of the xxs movie"
A music can come a legendary what is played after decade it was released and still you get paid for it.
But why should anyone being paid from something what their parents did and get money decades after parents have died? That has no sense at all...

7-10 years for patents... if you can not invent or get money from it in that time and improve it by getting a another patent for improved version, then it is your fault and community needs to have rights as there is always then someone who is willing to improve the technology in such ways what original inventor didn't ever even imagine.

ps. Of course open source needs very strong copyright protection so it can not be turn to closed source.

Re:I'm just an american.... (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#42679023)

ps. Of course open source needs very strong copyright protection so it can not be turn to closed source.

No, it does not need more copyright protection then any other creation. If a software doesn't evolve for 7 years, do you think that software worth much? And, if does evolve, you think a 7 years old version entering public domain (and being included in a closed source software) is something to be scared of?

Re:I'm just an american.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42681215)

Exactly, we are already seeing a problem where enthusiasts can't keep software running on their old computers.
We know that if software isn't moved to public domain within 20 years of release it is lost. (Except for the most popular pieces.)

I would also like the addition that if the software should be free for copying if it isn't made available any more.
For example if a company decides that the cost for keeping a game in stock or on a homepage is too expensive and removes any possibility to obtain the software then it should be legal to copy it.

Re:I'm just an american.... (1)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | about a year ago | (#42679573)

Simply add the requirement that the source code of any program has to be made available to the public if you want the program to be covered by copyright.

Expect Astroturfers by the thousands... (1)

advocate_one (662832) | about a year ago | (#42678991)

The content mafia will be astroturfing the crowd to the max that they can get away with... they have the software to enable their shills to appear as hundreds of other "citizens". So unless there are identity safeguards to positively identify each contributor as a registered citizen, they'll get the legislation they've always dreamed about...

Re:Expect Astroturfers by the thousands... (4, Interesting)

Apotekaren (904220) | about a year ago | (#42679091)

A voter must register and identify themself via their online banking, and they double-check this against the records in the magistrate.

Also, the text for the legislation is now finalized, and only accepting "up-votes" towards the 50 limit. Nothing you can do to astroturf that.

Re:Expect Astroturfers by the thousands... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42679095)

In order to participate you need a strong authentication - based on your online bank account or similar mechanism that identifies an individual. What would be the point of astroturfing? You can't vote anything down with this system.

Re:Expect Astroturfers by the thousands... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42679133)

One person (out of 1000+) objected to the new law on the Open Ministry website before the official signing began.

Vote on it... but not necessarily enact it (2)

Stolpskott (2422670) | about a year ago | (#42679017)

6/7 years ago, the Finnish parliament voted in the current "pussi paskaa" copyright law. Now, assuming that more than 1% of the population adds their names to a poll in favour of that law being amended (probably a racing certainty), the Finnish parliament has to vote yes/no on the question "did we make a huge mistake here?".

Given that Finland is part of the Euro currency group within the EU, there will probably be significant pressure from political groups within the EU that are backed by the European copyright lobby, as well as significant pressure generated by the RIAA/MPAA. There will also be pressure domestically from the Finnish copyright lobby, which was powerful enough to get the law passed in the first place.

So unless the number of people signing up for a review of the law exceeds 50% (probably not even then... 75% or even 90% might be needed) of the population of Finland, I doubt there is much chance of a vote on the subject gaining the required parliamentary support to overturn or amend the law.

Re:Vote on it... but not necessarily enact it (2)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year ago | (#42680205)

Not this parliament maybe, but how about the next parliament? After this vote you know which MP or party you should vote for next time. And put this same (or updated) bill up for public poll and subsequent parliamentary vote again.

Re:Vote on it... but not necessarily enact it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42683757)

After the shit they pulled with ACTA, I really don't think copyright interest groups and the EU parliament are on very good terms right now. Like at all.

Finland is going to learn a harsh lesson (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42679035)

Democracy doesn't exist in Europe, especially when it comes to copyright law.

He who has money, makes the law. And 50,000 signatures won't count against the weight of multinational corporations.

Re:Finland is going to learn a harsh lesson (1)

TranquilVoid (2444228) | about a year and a half ago | (#42688061)

Remember that's 50,000 self-selected people. All it says that at least 1 in 100 people favour a law change so if it fails to pass it's hardly proof positive of a failure of democracy. The benefit of this system is that it gives the people a better voice rather than being crowded out by organised lobby groups, financial or otherwise. It doesn't mean those lobby voices will, or should be, ignored.

50000 signatures from 5.4M people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42679093)

The number of signatures required is simply ludicrous. It's pretty close to 1% of the whole population of the nation, including newborns and the elderly.

To put it in perspective..

- 1% of americans would be around 3 million people. Would you sign a petition that REQUIRED 3 million signatures?
- It only takes 20000 names to name a presidential candidate in finland
- In the last parlament election, the person who got most votes got around 43000 votes. Getting 5000 votes guaranteed a seat.

Re:50000 signatures from 5.4M people (2)

tommituura (1346233) | about a year ago | (#42679429)

The number of signatures required is simply ludicrous. It's pretty close to 1% of the whole population of the nation, including newborns and the elderly.

To put it in perspective..

- 1% of americans would be around 3 million people. Would you sign a petition that REQUIRED 3 million signatures?

Signing is easy, it can be done over internet as in Finland, people have been conditioned to use their e-banking for identification.

- It only takes 20000 names to name a presidential candidate in finland

These days, president of Finland has been mostly stripped of his power other than to talk in grave voice about problems and visit other heads of state occasionally.

- In the last parlament election, the person who got most votes got around 43000 votes. Getting 5000 votes guaranteed a seat.

Apples and oranges, as parliament elections are divided by voting districts and this citizen's initiative thing is national.

Suffrage? (3, Interesting)

Qubit (100461) | about a year ago | (#42682179)

It's pretty close to 1% of the whole population of the nation, including newborns and the elderly.

Okay, sure, but do both of those groups have suffrage? (I can see the get-out-the-vote campaigns for the babies....free teething rings for all!)

- 1% of americans would be around 3 million people. Would you sign a petition that REQUIRED 3 million signatures?

Sure, if it was aimed at a useful result like "Don't let the telcos off the hook for helping the NSA violate the 4th Ammendment," or "Reform copyright law so it doesn't last forever minus a day". To be honest, a fair number of the petitions on the Whitehouse's petition site (that have passed the required bar to receive a response) concern issues that are interesting and relevant to most Americans. It's just that 5 or 500 petitions to legalize marijuana aren't going to do a damn thing, because the President doesn't have the political clout or the personal motivation to "make it so".

It sounds like this petition mechanism might actually effect real change -- the kind of change that political parties over on this side of the Atlantic promise up and down the campaign trail, but which, if it ever materializes, doesn't pack quite the same punch as promised -- and for that, I am quite envious of you Finns.

Democratic country... (-1, Flamebait)

andrewblaine (2822269) | about a year ago | (#42679391)

What does it mean ? 50,000 signature change the law of Finland.The common democratic illness is that we vote for politians based on how well they look in a suit..... http://goo.gl/DbOsC [goo.gl]

Politicians for hire (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42682921)

Crowd-sourcing political change is a complete waste of time as currently constructed. Instead, a 'kickstarter'-like approach is required, where citizen promise a certain level of financial bribe if a law is passed/modified.

Modern 'democracies' (which are anything but), based on the British model, reflect only the wishes of powerful pressure groups- groups that actually represent tiny minorities, but minorities that are willing to put money directly into the pockets of bent politicians. And most politicians are bought with shocking small amounts of cash.

However, let me be blunt. The 'mob' will never be allowed to use even its financial clout to modify the policies of the government. The ruling classes operate on one defining principle- the definition of 'us' and 'them'. Yes, the 'mob' is dangerous because of its tremendous advantage in numbers. However, since the first kingdoms and empires arose, the ruling classes learnt that the mob can almost always be contained by a very small, well trained, well armed, group of uniformed thugs- thugs sometime recruited from the mob itself, and sometimes recruited from a ethnic population from outside.

Pushed too far by war, by taxes, by poverty, by oppression, etc, and the mob might revolt, although most revolts burn out very quickly, If the ruling elite are well advised, they rarely resist the 'frog boiling' approach, where year-on-year they exploit the mob a little bit more.

The whole concept of the Internet is making more people explore the philosophical concept of 'society' than at any time in the past. Traditionally, elites feared significant communication systems between ordinary people, but the age of the computer allows the elites to use such communication as the ultimate intelligence gathering resource. The 'mob' reveals the entirety of its current mindset every day on the Internet. Most of what the mob 'thinks' is driven in response to propaganda generated by mass media bodies that the ruling elite controls.

Thus, a perfect feedback loop is created. The ruling elite gets an immediate warning if their policies are inflaming the mob to a degree unexpected. Likewise, the feedback allows the propaganda messages to be modified on a daily basis in an attempt to persuade the mob to accept that which would ordinarily be massively unpopular.

Copyrights and filesharing form an interesting issue. The smartest of the ruling elites understand that filesharing is the 'bread and circuses' of the mob, and is a very cheap method of keeping the mob pacified. They get that the copyright lobbyists should be largely ignored, on the basis that draconian copyright enforcement is to the ultimate detriment of the needs of the ruling elites. However, the system of democracy, as stated above, is one of politicians for hire. Thus, the general political machine is very vulnerable to the bribes provided by copyright lobbyists.

Two mechanisms are thus in play, and neither are in the hands of 'the people'.

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