Whale hunting, copyright, and One Direction. Lundagård went one-on-one for 10 minutes with Peter Sunde before last week’s Studentafton.
What are your hopes for Studentafton?
“Nothing! I don’t have any direct plans, it is what it is. I’m privileged to have Hanna Fahl making the questions, so basically, I just have to answer them.
So there are no particular issues you would like to raise?
“Yes, of course there is. But people probably don’t want to hear about it. For instance, I would have loved to shed light on whale hunting or not enough philosophy books being offered in book stores. I went to buy a book yesterday. They had more books about One Direction than philosophy.”
You are quite interested in politics as well, right?
“Yes, I don’t find any excitement in working if there is no politics involved. I want to change things, or at least, make people think about them. So that’s basically the core in all of my projects – making people think a little bit.”
What are you doing right now?
“I’m mostly gathering my different projects. For example, I have a micro payment system, Flattr, which I am involved with, and an app called Hemlis. It’s an encrypted chatting app not controlled by the American government or an American enterprise wanting to invade your private life. I also lecture a lot and work with matters related to freedom of speech.
In the documentary about The Pirate Bay, you say that “the copyright industry is digging Internet’s grave.” What are you trying to say?
“That they want laws enabling them to control and select the content on the Internet, forcing people to adapt to them, instead of doing what is good for society. One example is the IPRED law, which reached Europe to help copyright owners of certain productions to acquire information about file sharers. Same thing goes for terrorism. They want to solve a problem without realizing what it does to the actual infrastructure.”
How would you like to solve these problems differently?
“You have to look at the big picture. What do you want for society and what to actually do with this common communication tool? You should discuss these matters instead of being frightened whenever something happens, and try to shut down the entire Internet and try to monitor everything.”
“Supervision online is commonly used to try to prevent extreme terrorists, they say, but instead of monitoring seven billion Internet users, maybe they could solve it in a way so that nobody wants to become an extreme terrorist, which probably is the core of the problem.”
But if people become terrorists and are still present online anyways, how do you think the problem should be solved?
“In that case, society should look into people’s living standards. Make sure people have money and food on the table – and a place to live. That they are not vulnerable or excluded from society. We don’t close our roads trying to prevent a terrorist attack – we don’t keep people from driving and entering Stockholm at all, and we don’t have cameras everywhere in case a terrorist attack comes around.”
So you want Internet rules to be applicable throughout society?
“Yes, then society has to be equally monitored as the Internet – or the Internet has to be less monitored. And I wouldn’t like, every time I enter a store, to bring a file with me as a token of my presence there.”
What is your take on copyright?
“I find it tedious. It’s a bizarre example of a law being abused for other purposes than what is was designed for. It was created to ensure that nobody would make boot-leg copies of the Bible or other productions, so that you would be sure which one was the very original, but it has now become a means for helping artists make money. The artists aren’t the ones making money, however. It’s an enterprise. So the law has digressed from its initial purpose.”
So, should there not be any copyright at all?
“Right. It’s out-of-date. They cling on to an obsolete system and try to shape the new world after it.”
Do you believe that today’s view of the Internet will improve with new generations?
“I don’t believe that. I think people are somewhat brought up to conform to the current state. Young people are perhaps a bit revolutionary and rebellious, but then they can’t keep up the fire after a certain age. If they don’t manage to change things, it simply is what it is.”
The closed Pirate Bay website features a clock counting down. Do you know what it is for?
“I have nothing to do with that. I hope it’s a countdown to the complete shutdown of the site.”
Why do you hope that?
“I’ve probably said it a thousand million times.”
“Haha, no, don’t worry. I understand the question. I think The Pirate Bay functions poorly technically, and it has become unpleasant to visit. Today, I saw that the page came up, so I went in and clicked a link. What came up was only ads, and I immediately felt that that was something I hate about The Pirate Bay. It’s ads and filth. It just feels wrong.”
It was better back in the day, huh?
“I wouldn’t go that far, but a few years back, at least, there was an objective greater than having all those ads, and before, there was some kind of progression.”
“The Pirate Bay is big, and it’s a problem that its scope prevents its development by being good enough. It’s like the movie and record market. So it becomes what it was destined not to be.”
You created a monster?
“Oh yeah, it’s like the movie Hal 9000, or what ever it’s called, where the computer takes over.
Would you make the case that The Pirate Bay serves a democratic function?
“Absolutely. Hopefully, however, somebody will take over and improve it.
Text: Felicia Green
Translation: Maximilian Aleman-Tennell