So Europe has a multiparty political system, which recently has started including the Pirate Party who, as it happens, advocate that all non-commercial copying should be legal. The Dutch party is taking a legal stand against BREIN (the local aspect of the MPAA) by refusing to take down a proxy to the Pirate Bay torrents site.
In the Netherlands a judge has been trying to censor the internet by ordering ISP's to block The Pirate Bay because it is bad, you know--and naturally the very next day a million sites in the Netherlands set up proxies to TPB, the Dutch Pirate Party being one of them.
A proxy is essentially a link. A link is a string of text. Apparently this particular string of text is now illegal in the Netherlands.
You are not allowed to know where the Pirate Bay is.
But this is why, even if you are not sympathetic with piracy, you should care about this. The mechanisms of control necessary to stop this "bad" copying, also disable "good" copying. Copying, in this case, being equivalent to "communication".
On the internet, all data is equal. There is no way to tell the good data from the bad data--at least without monstrously intrusive searching by third parties. The only way to do this would be for users to literally tag "evil" activity. So just be sure to turn the evil bit on before you get up to that evil shit.
I'll close today by copy/pasting a big chunk of the Swedish Pirate Party's page I linked to above, because I was reading it while researching this post, and damn if it doesn't sound like pretty sensible stuff--and I'm pretty sure they won't mind my copying it ;-)
(I'm not italicizing in order to save your eyes, below)
"Reform of copyright law »
The official aim of the copyright system has always been to find a balance in order to promote culture being created and spread. Today that balance has been completely lost, to a point where the copyright laws severely restrict the very thing they are supposed to promote. The Pirate Party wants to restore the balance in the copyright legislation. All non-commercial copying and use should be completely free. File sharing and p2p networking should be encouraged rather than criminalized. Culture and knowledge are good things, that increase in value the more they are shared. The Internet could become the greatest public library ever created. The monopoly for the copyright holder to exploit an aesthetic work commercially should be limited to five years after publication. Today's copyright terms are simply absurd. Nobody needs to make money seventy years after he is dead. No film studio or record company bases its investment decisions on the off-chance that the product would be of interest to anyone a hundred years in the future. The commercial life of cultural works is staggeringly short in today's world. If you haven't made your money back in the first one or two years, you never will. A five years copyright term for commercial use is more than enough. Non-commercial use should be free from day one. We also want a complete ban on DRM technologies, and on contract clauses that aim to restrict the consumers' legal rights in this area. There is no point in restoring balance and reason to the legislation, if at the same time we continue to allow the big media companies to both write and enforce their own arbitrary laws.
An abolished patent system »
Pharmaceutical patents kill people in third world countries every day. They hamper possibly life saving research by forcing scientists to lock up their findings pending patent application, instead of sharing them with the rest of the scientific community. The latest example of this is the bird flu virus, where not even the threat of a global pandemic can make research institutions forgo their chance to make a killing on patents. The Pirate Party has a constructive and reasoned proposal for an alternative to pharmaceutical patents. It would not only solve these problems, but also give more money to pharmaceutical research, while still cutting public spending on medicines in half. This is something we would like to discuss on a European level. Patents in other areas range from the morally repulsive (like patents on living organisms) through the seriously harmful (patents on software and business methods) to the merely pointless (patents in the mature manufacturing industries). Europe has all to gain and nothing to lose by abolishing patents outright. If we lead, the rest of the world will eventually follow.
Respect for the right to privacy »
Following the 9/11 event in the US, Europe has allowed itself to be swept along in a panic reaction to try to end all evil by increasing the level of surveillance and control over the entire population. We Europeans should know better. It is not twenty years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and there are plenty of other horrific examples of surveillance-gone-wrong in Europe's modern history. The arguments for each step on the road to the surveillance state may sound ever so convincing. But we Europeans know from experience where that road leads, and it is not somewhere we want to go. We must pull the emergency brake on the runaway train towards a society we do not want. Terrorists may attack the open society, but only governments can abolish it."
The Pirate Bay is currently at 126.96.36.199, by the way.