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As Swedish Pirate Party MEP Christian Engström prepares to take up his seat in the Committee for Legal Affairs (JURI) and the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) of the new European Parliament, infamous Swedish file-sharing site the Pirate Bay is yet again suffering a broadside – this time from the US movie industry, according to the Ars Technica blog.

Despite the Pirate Bay operators’ attempts to woo a potential buyer in order to convert the site into a legal site (think Napster or Kazaa, going from illegal to legal), the Pirate Bay is now facing legal action from several major US studios including Columbia Pictures, Disney, and Warner Bros. The key argument behind the legal actions is that the site operators are, despite the guilty verdict they faced in April of this year, continuing their activities.

The pro-piracy and pro-privacy debate (and indeed movement for that matter) is not about to go away, and with Mr Engström firmly in place in Brussels for the next five years, surely the three core principles of the Pirate Party will gain more prominence on a European level, namely that “personal integrity must be protected, that culture must be set free and that patents and private monopolies are hurting society”.

Ironically however, much of the technology that is being hailed as tools of freedom of expression and for allowing cheap global access to culture (for example the use of Twitter in Iran and Google books etc) is under attack by regulators. Wired magazine reports that President Obama’s top anti-trust official is gunning for Google, something The Lobby thought the EU could do in the future, Twitter is attracting attention from the US Federal Trade Commission, and over here in Europe we’ve already seen a lot of debate being generated over the pros and cons of the EU Telecoms Package.

While all agree on the need for standards, rules and legislation, regulators should consider treading lightly so as not to tread too heavy-handedly on dreams of freedom of expression, liberty and access to culture…

– Emil

(UPDATE 30/07/09: According to Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, the acquisition of the Pirate Bay file-sharing site by Swedish software company Global Gaming Factory (GGF) X AB is going ahead and will be completed during the last week of August. The article states that GGF are in final talks with one of the music industry’s four “giants” (i.e. Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music and EMI) with regard to turning the site into a legal operation.

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eYou Guide logoToday Commissioner Kuneva and Commissioner Reding jointly launched the eYouGuide. The initiative aims to empower consumers and citizens through the eYouGuide website which allows consumers to browse through their rights and obligations online as they are presently set out under existing EU law.

The website is rather extensive in its scope covering (albeit in a brief manner) topics such as ads and kids, blogging, DRM, file sharing, personal data and privacy, social networks and video games. Despite being an excellent source of information for consumers, websites such as these always run the risk of becoming outdated relatively quickly especially taking into account the speed at which developments in the ‘e’ field are taking place at the moment.

– Emil

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