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RE: <nettime> Napster offshore?
Felipe Rodriquez on 7 Mar 2001 18:49:53 -0000

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RE: <nettime> Napster offshore?


> [Offshore data havens have long figured prominently in the dreams of
> cypherpunks as a base of a truly unregulated financial system that could
> evade the presumed evils of governments. Not much happened so far, partly
> because there are issues of trust involved. Would you give your money to a
> company that is truly unaccountable?

Havenco (the offshore datahaven in Sealand) is not a black hole run by
people that are unaccountable; it is setup by a group of cypherpunks that
are well known and respected. And if they are able to collect the
necessary startup capital, then they will probably start offering their
services soon.

> Napster would be an ideal service to host offshore. It requires relatively
> little infrastructure to run and there are no issues of trust involved. It
> will be interesting to see if they can pull it off and what that means to
> the existence of these data havens. I have some difficulties imaging the
> record companies simply accepting that something essential to them happens
> outside of jurisdiction.
> Even if it were impossible to outlaw a service that operates from a data
> haven, I wonder how many people are willing to spend the rest of their
> lives of an old oil-plattform because there is a warrant out on them every
> other country. Felix]

Internet connections have to connect somewhere. If a Napster like service
would be hosted at offshore, outside the scope of law, then the RIAA and
other copyright owners would target the uplinks of the host. Havenco will
have leased line connections to London and Amsterdam as far as I am aware,
and therefore one would expect the copyright enforcers to target the
providers that provide Internet connectivity to havenco.

Apart from that the legal status of Sealand is unsure. The island of
Sealand, where Freehaven is based, claims to be an independent state, with
its own mandate. But it is highly likely that the UK will claim that it is
part of its territory, and that its inhabitants should obey the English
law. With increasing economic interests at stake, the likelyhood increases
that the UK will claim Sealand, and that a territorial conflict will

Additionally the copyright enforcers may choose to target individuals;
some of the people that run Freehaven are US citizens. And some of the
organizations that host information at Freehaven will be US organizations.
These people and organizations could still be held accountable in the US
and elsewhere for their actions. In theory in this case copyright
infringement could result in damages claims and criminal charges against
the organizers of Freehaven.

It'll be interesting to see what happens though; RIAA will pursue any
means to protect their rights. And if a loophole can be found, that
loophole will immediately be exploited by a worldwide community.

In a couple of years from now, free havens on the Internet will become
targets of state organized economic and military sanctions. Just like
Iraq, Libia and Afghanistan are victims of global trade and
technology-exhange restrictions today. Free havens can harm the interests
of corporations, and when they do the nation states will come to the
rescue of corporate interests.

Warfare between nations will partly be replaced by warfare between
different corporations, or by warfare between corporations and citizens
that oppose them. And the nation state will become (remain?) the defender
of the corporation; the enforcer with the gun and the missile.

Meatspace warfare will become information warfare, because enormous
dollarvalue damage can be done with relatively few risks. Small
(anonymous) groups of individuals can do serious harm to a corporation, or
to a country, just by publishing information. A napster like service in a
free haven has the potential to cause billions of dollars in corporate
revenue to evaporate. Naturally a strong response will come from
corporations and governments; the governments will come to the rescue with
legal actions/sanctions if corporations start to feel hurt.

In the media (the same corporations that own so many copyrights) we will
see more activism be labelled as terrorism. Changing a corporate homepage
will no longer be labelled as a naughty joke, but as information
terrorism. Copyright infringement has already be labeled
copyright-terrorism. Repression starts with rhetorics, because rhetorics
often lead to real laws that restrict our rights.

	Felipe Rodriquez

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