As reported here last week, Gates of Vienna has received two emails from Sveriges Television (SVT), the Swedish state broadcaster. The first one was from the executive producer of “Agenda SVT”, and the second from a lawyer in SVT’s legal department. Both messages objected to a video embedded in a post from last spring entitled “A Loss of Faith in Sweden as a Democracy”, and cited copyright issues as the reason for their concern.
Last summer’s decision by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, written by Richard Posner no less, makes it quite clear that the embedding of a video uploaded by someone else cannot constitute a violation of copyright — only the uploader of the video and the hosting service may be considered liable. This decision applies to citizens of the United States who live in the United States, which is what the proprietors of this blog are.
When I outlined the above information in my reply to the second email, I received an automated notice (in Swedish, but clear enough in machine translation) saying that the esteemed lawyer was on leave until the 7th of January. That’s a nice long
Christmas winter holiday those SVT apparatchiks get! So we will have to wait a couple of weeks until the next act of this drama unfolds.
Copyright may be a genuine concern with SVT, but I have my doubts that it is the real issue. Why, eight months after it was originally posted, did the video suddenly draw the attention of the legal department at Swedish state TV? Even now, after the recent brouhaha, it has been viewed fewer than four thousand times — hardly a matter of great concern.
A Swedish reader wrote us with an interesting theory of what might really be going on:
The threat of legal action from SVT against Gates of Vienna may have a covert purpose which you may be missing. My guess is that they are hoping for a legal fight — going to court in Sweden. The Swedish kangaroo court would rule in favor of SVT. Since your blog would then have been convicted of a crime, SVT and the Swedish court will be able to have the Swedish government, the government of Norway, and perhaps the EU itself block access to GoV within Europe and wherever else they can.
I tend towards paranoia myself, so I’m not ready to rule out such a possible scenario. Other Scandinavians may want to weigh in with their own evaluation of the likelihood of any devious schemes. What do you think is the meaning behind SVT’s action, and in particular the significance of its timing?
A reader in Norway pointed out another aspect of the affair that I hadn’t considered:
Regarding the Sweden Democrats clip and the accusations of alleged copyright infringement made by SVT, maybe you should write back to the Swedish lawyer and demand that the screenshots of Gates of Vienna featured in this documentary be removed, as they are the legal property of GoV.
I presume that SVT did not have the permission from GoV to use them in their documentary.
In any case, whatever you decide to do you should know that there are lots of people out there supporting you.
Well, that’s a thought — if I ever acquire the bottomless pockets I have longed for all my life, maybe I’ll dig into them and send an entire warren of lawyers haring after Sveriges Television, and clean them out of every last krona.
Until then, I’ll have to be content with buzzing around their ears like an annoying little transatlantic fly.
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This current eruption concerning Swedish state TV recapitulates what happened earlier this year with the Norwegian media during the Breivik trial. The klieg lights were hot in our faces in those days, just as they had been a year previously, right after the slaughter on Utøya.
This unwanted attention from the organs of leftist orthodoxy in Norway had the unintended consequence of sending readers to Gates of Vienna who would otherwise never have found us. As I pointed out at the time:
A couple of weeks ago we discussed a process I likened to a 21st-century Radio Free Norway. Since almost all Norwegian mass media are severely skewed in their bias against Islam-critics, and in favor of leftist Multiculturalism, this blog and other prominent sites of the anti-Islamization resistance act as conduits of real information into Norway.
Now the same thing seems to be happening with SVT. Perhaps the proximate cause is the fact that the Sweden Democrats have for the first time gained the support of more than 10% of the Swedish populace. Or maybe there is some other domestic political reason that makes the Swedish authorities want to shut down or discredit overseas websites that help Swedes discover the truth about what is being done to their country.
Whenever they attempt something like this, thousands of Swedes are pointed to the article and see the video clip. And they don’t just read the SVT-related material: new readers work their way through our archives as well, discovering all our horrifying blasphemies against Multicultural orthodoxy. Worst of all, they are able to see their country from the point of view of an outsider — exactly what their own state media want to prevent.
So the meme propagates, thanks to SVT. The Swedish media are their own worst enemy, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for that, communists or not.
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Very little real dissent occurs in public within Sweden itself. Like Norway, Sweden is unkind to those who sin against jantelagen, and makes the lives of its dissidents miserable.
It’s not a good sign when no vigorous and open discussion contrary to consensus occurs within Sweden itself. This is one of the characteristics of a “totalitarian democracy”: the state exercises virtually complete control over public opinion, but without the necessity for jackboots or a gulag. Given the right conditions, the total suppression of officially unacceptable opinions may be achieved without any violence whatsoever.
I have said all these things before concerning Norway, and the same is just as true of Sweden. This blog did not set out to become a haven for Scandinavian dissidents. We stumbled into the role accidentally, over the course of six or seven years, as disgruntled Swedes and Norwegians took an interest in the translations, the news stories, and the free-ranging discussion in our comments. We gradually accumulated more tipsters, more translators, and more correspondents.
Now, as 2012 draws to a close, our broadcast radius has increased to the point that the official state media of Sweden find it expedient to bring us to heel — or try to.
To paraphrase what I said last June:
We beam our signal into the oppressed forests and snow-covered uplands so that ordinary Swedes may realize that yes, there is another point of view besides the one they are spoon-fed by SVT.
That their homeland and heritage are worth preserving and protecting.
That not only is there nothing wrong with having such a goal, but that striving for it is in fact a noble and worthy enterprise.
That saving their culture is a moral necessity for all Swedes.
The same is true for the rest of us in our own homelands, of course. We really need a Radio Free Everywhere.
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One final point is worth considering. Suppose the Swede who wrote to us last week is right?
What if this operation by SVT is an attempt to obtain a legal judgment against Gates of Vienna, and thus provide a pretext for blocking access to us within Sweden, and possibly other countries as well?
I am by nature obstinate. This is especially true when someone attempts to bully me. My first tendency is always to resist, to be defiant, to dig in my heels. I am wont to say, in effect, “Take your filthy hands off me, Sirrah, or I warrant that you shall live to regret your insolence!”
But is this the most prudent course, given the current context?
SVT has no case against Gates of Vienna under any law that a court in the United States of America would recognize. But suppose they succeed with some intra-European gambit, and shut down access to this blog in Scandinavia or elsewhere. What then?
Which course would be better? Should we censor ourselves, and remove the embedded video in order to obviate such a pretext? Or should we remain defiant, and thus take the risk that Sweden will jam our signal?
I’ll be gratified to hear from our Scandinavian readers. Radio Free Scandinavia is here to serve you, so your interests in this matter are paramount.