Sunday, May 31, 2009

Beating Back the Waves: Lars Gustafsson's Thoughts on Technology, Art and Freedom of Expression

The Swedish government authorities have recently taken steps aimed at limiting or shutting down Pirate Bay, the saucily unrepentant group that facilitates large scale sharing via Bit Torrent of copyrighted videos, films, music and books. The Scandinavian countries have the world's highest rates of Internet usage, and copyright holders in other countries have been ardently urging the Swedish authorities to act to protect copyrights that are formally guaranteed by international treaties.

Swedes are known for their socialist and mutually responsible approach to governing themselves, but at the same time, many of them are adamant advocates of total Internet freedom.

A Franco-German proposal on copyright enforcement and the Internet recently failed to prosper at the European Parliament, giving further impetus to Sweden's new "Pirate Party," which is organizing in order to influence the debate.

Noted Swedish writer Lars Gustafsson, who taught in Austin until his retirement in 2003, takes a look at the issues in the May 28 entry in his multilingual blog. The translation from Swedish to English was begun by Rasmus, the writer publishing at and was refined by

Here's what Gustafsson has to say:

Beating Back the Rising Waters: On Internet Freedom and Citizens’ Rights

A writer of antiquity relates that the Emperor of Persia ordered his forces to flog the ocean’s waves because a storm was hindering the departure of his troop ships.

Stupid. Today, perhaps he might have complained to the Stockholm district court? Or consulted with the judges?

It is remarkable how strongly the plight of citizens’ rights in spring, 2009 resembles the struggle for freedom of press in France in the decades leading up to the French revolution.

A new world of ideas is emerging, one that would never have been possible without the ever increasing rapidity of technological development.

Read more at . . . .

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