Piracy vs Plagiarism, What is the difference?

by Kitty Hundal with contributions by Raymond Johansen

This article was inspired by a recent situation which occurred. The Hacker Wars, an article written by me, Kitty Hundal, with contributions by Raymond Johansen, was originally published with our permission to The Cryptosphere in April, 2015. The Cryptosphere is owned and operated by independent media journalist, Lorraine Murphy.

This week, that article was plagiarized by one of the authors on another site called AnonHQ. This author claimed the article was covered under a Creative Commons license. While the author didn’t specify which license, their statement indicated that they considered it a public domain license. It wasn’t.

AnonHQ did remove that plagiarized version on request by Lorraine Murphy, but two other sites that picked up that same plagiarized version from the AnonHQ site (before it was removed) have not removed it as per her request.

AnonHQ tweet

A Creative Commons license is only valid when the specific license (there are 6 different ones) is specified on the original source site, the terms of the license are included and all sites or authors who republish it link back to that license on the original source site.

The Cryptosphere, the original source site for the article (not AnonHQ), doesn’t have any license specified on the site. This means that by default they are covered by a standard All Rights Reserved copyright license. As a result their material is not available for republication without their explicit written permission, republication must be in full (no modifications) and the original content creators must be credited with the work on the site it’s republished on. In other words, the AnonHQ author (and AnonHQ) were required to get permission in writing to republish, they were required to republish the article in full (no derivation) and they were required to display my and Raymond Johansens names with the republished articles in order to give credit to us for the work. None of this was done. 

Because copyright law in most countries by default grants copyright holders monopolistic control over their creations, copyright content must be explicitly declared free, usually by the referencing or inclusion of licensing statements from within the work. ~Free Content Wiki

That said, it should be noted that I’m a strong supporter of the Pirate Movement and my previous career was in libraries (an area where copyright has been an issue for years). Raymond Johansen is an internationally recognized Global Pirate activist, a strong advocate for filesharing, and someone who has been involved in the Pirate Movement since it’s inception.

So, we are both very concerned about the new trends being pushed in copyright law and the impact they will have on file sharing, public libraries, and access to information and knowledge.

In this particular situation, my concern is that misguided people may be misled by people who don’t understand these issues clearly.

This article is my attempt to clarify these issues. 

~ Kitty Hundal

There’s been a lot of controversy in the media in recent years about Piracy (filesharing), which is a long standing internet tradition. Much of this drama has been created by organizations like the MPAA who are acting like spoiled toddlers. They claim to be defending the rights of the content creators when, in fact, they are actually defending only the rights of their corporate conglomerates. The industry that has been built around the content creators and exploits them mercilessly.

To a large extent, the Internet has freed the content creators from this gross exploitation and given them the ability to control both distribution and production of their creative works.

This is a problem for organizations like the MPAA and other industries (like music and publishing) because it eliminates the artists (content creators) reliance on the bureaucracy these industries have built around the artist. A bureaucracy which not only controls what kind of creative content is released to the public, it controls who can see it as well as when and where it can be seen.

The driving factor in the past for this bureaucracy’s existence has been the need by artists to have the financial means to produce good content and the resources to distribute it widely.

Today, with the Internet, that need can be met without this bureaucracy.

The content creator now has much more control over what they create, how they finance the production of the work, who produces it, as well as who distributes it. If the content creator is knowledgeable enough, they can take control of doing it all themselves with resources that are readily available to anyone on the Internet.

The consumer now has a great deal of control over what we see with a larger selection available to us, and we can choose where, when and how we view the content.

The MPAA, rather than accepting this new reality and building new business models within it, like the publishing and music industries are starting to do, is throwing temper tantrums instead. It is making demands of governments to impose numerous restrictions as well as engaging in the most corrupt manipulations (as the Sony Leaks have demonstrated) in order to maintain their outdated and useless business model.

Forcing such changes will only result in a ghettoization of the Internet. Such changes will also largely be unenforceable due to the technology and the demands of the consumers. In my opinion, it will, in the end, destroy this useless, outdated, monolithic model anyway. In other words, the MPAA is fighting an expensive but losing battle.

New, recent studies have demonstrated that a new business model which recognizes and accepts Piracy (filesharing) for what it really is (free storage, distribution, promotion and publicity) and incorporates it would be quite successful. Piracy has been shown to be a benefit to new content creators who are relatively unknown as well as established content creators.

A new study by a researcher at North Carolina State University suggests that frequently, pirated albums sell slightly more copies than ones that aren’t. “Leaked” albums that show up for download on popular BitTorrent sites before the release date have long been considered the bane of the Recording Industry Association of America. A 2007 report by the Institute for Policy Innovation suggested that piracy costs the U.S. economy $12.5 billion annually.

~Album Piracy May Help Musicians Sell: Study suggests pre-release file sharing may not hurt a known artist; industry might be another story.

The London School of Economics and Political Science has released a new policy brief urging the UK Government to look beyond the lobbying efforts of the entertainment industry when it comes to future copyright policy. According to the report there is ample evidence that file-sharing is helping, rather than hurting the creative industries. The scholars call on the Government to look at more objective data when deciding on future copyright enforcement policies. ~Piracy isn’t killing the Entertainment Industry, Scholars Show.

Piracy also provides another service which is of great benefit to the consumer. Like libraries, Pirates create sites which store content and preserve it historically. Those sites really are no different than your local public library and should be treated that way.

Of course, these benefits to Piracy were not planned by anyone, they just evolved in the same way that the Internet and many other aspects of Internet culture have evolved.

Piracy encapsulates the concept that knowledge, like the Internet, must be free.

So, what is the problem with Plagiarism then? After all, if we want knowledge to be free shouldn’t anyone be able to take it and use it however they want?

Sure. What they shouldn’t be able to do (and can’t do) is take credit for work that someone else was responsible for creating. That’s what plagiarism is.

Content creators take knowledge and create original works from that knowledge. Pirates store, distribute, publicize and promote the content creators works. Plagiarists take the original work and revise it or play other skanky tricks to make it look like their own, then distribute it as if it were their own.

Plagiarism is just one small step below the MPAA and their obsessive need to control content and content creators and ensure that they can exploit them and their content to the maximum for their own financial benefit.

Essentially, Plagiarists take things a step further. By not crediting the content creators directly they are implying that they are the content creators. The plagiarists basically look for interesting content on the web, steal it, modify it slightly, remove any credit to the original creator in or with the content on their site. If they bother to include a link back to the original article it’s because they know people will assume the item hasn’t been changed and won’t expect a different author or content creator. It’s a deceptive attempt to make it look like they’re following the requirements of copyright when they are not.

This is often justified with the misguided belief (based on Internet rumor) that anything on the Internet is Public Domain if not stated otherwise.

That is not the case.

If a Creative Commons license is used it has to be specified on the original web site and a link back has to occur directly to that license. If a Creative Commons license isn’t specified then the default is the standard ‘All Rights Reserved’ copyright.

Just to be perfectly clear, I support the Pirate Movement and based on recent studies it has been good for the artists and content creators even though it has been bad for the distributors. The Pirate Movement is not (irrespective of what the MPAA and others say) violating copyright in any way. They are doing what libraries do. Distributing the original unchanged content for free while giving the creators full credit for their works.

I also support the concept of Anonymous which includes the belief that information and knowledge like the Internet should be free. That concept also allows content creators to produce content and make that content free anonymously, if they choose to. This is a beautiful aspect of Anonymous culture, which I respect.

One aspect of Anon culture has been to take images (public domain or not), create memes, and distribute those memes. Like the Pirates, Anons and others who are redistributing those memes are not pretending they are the creators of the image. If the image does contain creator information, it is rarely (to my knowledge) removed. So, like the Pirates, Anons are simply engaging in free distribution and promotion of creative content they like. Some images have meme content that criticizes the content of the image in some way through parody or sarcasm. This is fair use.

Most Anonymous memes consist of original content created by Anons themselves. Any original works created under the Anonymous banner are public domain and freely distributed, derived from, etc.

As far as I know, the Anonymous concept doesn’t include plagiarizing content from other creators who don’t create it under the Anonymous banner, making minor modifications and then distributing it as if it were their own and/or Anonymous.

Now, the following differentiation is an important one to grasp. If an individual or corporation were to take an Anonymous meme or concept, and try to take creative credit for it by applying a copyright of some kind to it (exactly what the author on the AnonHQ site did to us), Anonymous would object and they would be wholly within their rights to object. In fact, they did object when a French company attempted to do this a couple of years ago. Note that trademarks are a form of copyright.

Anonymous row as French company trademarks logo

I do not support or agree with Plagiarism which hurts the content creators, the artists, and benefits the corrupt who are unable to create high quality content so they steal it from others for their own personal, career, and/or commercial benefit.

Libraries have fought these industries for years, particularly when audio  and video materials were introduced into libraries in the 1970s and 1980s. Libraries have also fought the plagiarists by refusing to publish their works and exposing them when discovered.

The concept of fair use through the Fair Use Doctrine was introduced to provide a balance between the rights of the public to information and knowledge and the rights of the content creator (usually also the copyright holder) to receive credit for and to benefit financially and otherwise for their creation.

Fair use allows for extractions in the form of quotes, critiques on content produced by others, news reporting on content created by others, introduction of content by educational institutions for educational purposes, etc.

In the US, the Fair Use Doctrine is defined as follows:

“In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include –

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
  5. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.”

Source: Fair Use / American Library Association

So, essentially the difference between plagiarism and piracy is:

  1. Plagiarism is theft. It disrespects the content creator by stealing their content, often changing it, and doing so in such a way that the thief implies they are the creator. It often benefits the thief personally, career-wise and / or commercially and it violates the Fair Use Doctrine.
  2. Piracy consists of file sharing, storage, publicity and promotion for free. It respects the content creator by promoting the content creator and the content intact, distributing it widely and storing it in a historical archive in much the same ways that public libraries do. Pirates just do it in a cyber environment.

Article and expressions, but not the images, may be Shared freely. This was written by Kitty Hundal and Raymond Johansen. Thank you for your precious time. 

This work is licensed as Creative Commons – CopyLeft

Enforced Transparency 5: Crowdsourcing Independent Journalism

HAXpopart_400x400ENFORCED TRANSPARENCY by way of investigative journalism

In our first article, we explained that when governments deny their citizens transparency and start to do bad things. We need to employ new tools to safeguard our democracy.

This article, will focus on Independent Journalism and how to achieve that very independence. We will cover three examples of this, where journalists have achieved financing of their projects independent of mainstream media – usually curbed by corporate interests. An example of this is the recent scandal involving Peter Oborne, the former chief political commentator of The Telegraph – link here

THE TOOLS OF Enforced Transparency ARE

  1. Hacking
  2. Whistleblowing
  3. Leaking
  4. Independent Journalism
  5. FOIA request (coincidentally  “invented” in Sweden)

DemokratiHenrik Alexandersson is one those of independent voices seeking to tell a story, enforcing transparency, by financing a book. By way of crowdsourcing – completely devoid of pressure from corporate influence.

We call him / HAX and know him well for his crystal clear libertarian voice attacking mass surveillance and several other important causes . A watchdog this blog would wish there were more of.
His aim is to finance a book called “Demokratifabriken – EU från insidan”. Loosely translated as “The Democracy Factory – EU from the inside“. We were lucky enough to be able to ask him some questions about his crowdsourcing campaign. His hope is to raise 7,000 EUR. At publication his campaign stand at 1,793 EUR with 26 days left.

Q: Henrik Alexandersson, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a Swedish libertarian, blogger and human rights activist. In the fight against Swedish mass surveillance i came in contact with the Pirate Party. As I was living in Brussels and blogging about the EU, they gave me a job as assistant to their first MEP, Christian Engström. I worked there for five years, we didn’t get re-elected and now I’m a freelance writer and digital nomad, kind of.

SQUACHQ: Demokratifabriken, your crowd funded project, seems to be an attempt to make sure that the public gets a peak behind the curtains in Brussels. Is that correct or would you like to explain it to us in your own words?

The EU is a centralized project, saturated with bureaucracy, incompetence and corporatism. It is turning into a central planned system with a huge democratic deficit and little transparency. Power is moving from the people to politics, from member states to Brussels and from democratic institutions to non-elected bureaucrats. I think the EU should be more de-centralised and focused om free movement (people, goods, services and money) and civil rights.

Pluralism once made Europe great. Some harmonisation might be in order to have a common market. But must everything be the same everywhere? What is the point of free movement then?

Q: It seems you are close to reaching your goal of 7k EUR. Is that enough money to actually achieve what you set out to do?

Well, it’s 5,000 EUR as minimum level for me taking the time to write and produce a book. If we reach 7,000 EUR, there will also be an audio book. If the campaign raises more money it will be used for a Swedish lecturing tour. If we don’t reach 5,000 EUR, the fundraising company will return the money to the contributors, and there will be no book.

Of course, I could do with more money. But I need to be realistic. Raising some money at the start of the campaign is one thing, but now we enter the difficult phase – to keep the interest up and spreading the word in wider circles. To start a crowd funding campaign is one thing, but you need to keep it up for weeks and weeks, finding new channels and people to ask for money. And I hate asking people for money…

Q: How important would you say Transparency is to save what is left of Privacy and Democracy?

9958-cybercri_articleIt is essential. People must be able to trust that the authorities just point surveillance against people suspected for criminal activities. And we need to be sure that what is being labeled as ”criminal” really is criminal. Today we are not allowed to know what is going on. And the laws seem to allow more than was expected.

Henrik concludes with this statement: Well, I’m happy if I reach my primary goal. But people can fund the campaign as much as they want for 26 more days.

<<< This is the link to his campaign: >>>     ♣ FundedByMe

The team behind this project consists of Brit Stakston, Author and Media Strategist and Digital Advisor and Martin Schibbye, Freelance Journalist. And quite a few others.

Their project raised 122,777 EUR with close to 2,000 backers. They describe their successful efforts like this:

“The crisis in journalism must be met with something new. We are a group of reporters who have decided to take matters into our own hands. Together we want to write the stories that don’t get covered.

Blank Spot Project is a digital platform for storytelling journalism, reporting from around the world. We want to show more of the world and write the stories that do not get written. When the journalist Martin Schibbye was released from an Ethiopian prison after 438 days in captivity, a fellow prisoner whispered “Tell the world what you have seen.” We are now a number of editors, photo editors, photographers, investigative journalists, digital developers and reporters, including Martin Schibbye, who together have decided to do just that: Tell what the world outside Sweden looks like.”

<<< This is the link to their campaign: >>>     ♣ FundedByMe

Recently they participated in a Panel discussion organized by Julia Reda in Brussels with other notables like Cory Doctorow, Director Lexi Alexander and among others award-winning Creative Commons photographer Jonathan Worth.

icij-main-marquee-no-luxleaks_1ICIJ’s Luxembourg Leaks investigation is based on a confidential cache of secret tax agreements approved by Luxembourg authorities, that provide tax-relief for more than 350 companies around the world. These private deals are legal in Luxembourg.

In this interactive application ICIJ has created a visual and searchable database of 548 tax rulings that have been approved by Luxembourg officials with a stamped and signed confirmation letter. In addition, ICIJ is publishing 16 other documents — such as corporate tax returns — related to companies in Luxembourg.

|| hacktivist culture || could not write this article without a *tipshat* to The Intercept and Glenn Greenwald. A prime example of how to do independent investigative journalism.

TFCIn addition we would like to thank The Fifth Column for their work on Free Trade Agreements. Recently they published “Hackers and Journalists Partner for Enforced Transparency 3” – greetz to Alex Freeman

Articles are written by Kitty Hundal and Raymond Johansen, feel free to share in any way you like. And thanks for your precious time.


Enforced Transparency 1 – when hacking becomes necessary
Enforced Transparency 2 – when hacking becomes imperative
Hackers and journalists partner for Enforced Transparency 3
Enforced Transparency 4 – The Whistleblowers Bravery


Enforced Transparency – when hacking becomes necessary

The concept of transparency is simple, if governments practice it – we as a people – will be able to spot misuse of power, corruption and safeguard our democracy. When transparency becomes just a word, a smokescreen, and governments around the world use it as well as the alleged need for secrecy to keep us in the dark, something has to be done.

Hacking: The Transparency Grenade
GreandeHacking, whistleblowing and journalism are very effective tools in this regard. That is why we call it #EnforcedTransparency. In the image above you will see some of the most prominent enforcers the world has seen. They are early innovators and should be hailed as heroes – not jailed as criminals.

The expression “Enforced Transparency” is derived from a tool governments have been using for decades: Enforced Disappearances – or as it is called in Spanish: Desaparición forzada. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forced_disappearance

When governments across the world can kidnap, torture, and murder their citizens, more and more people are realizing the importance of Enforcing Transparency – in a non-violent way.

CPJJournalism and Enforcing Transparency
Obviously the media plays an important role in keeping an eye on our governments. One of the more critical organizations in the post-Snowden era has been The Intercept. Organizations such as the Committee to Protect Journalists and Freedom of the Press Foundation also play an important role.

The sad fact is that it is very difficult these days finding a truly free press capable of exposing corruption and lies when the companies they investigate are all-powerful. They use their money to pressure MSM (mainstream media) not to publish stories, and resort to outright pure propaganda. Both the US and Russia have anFree_Dom_Press extensive network of news outlets simply dedicated to pushing a particular agenda, whether statist or corporatist –  as I am sure other countries do.

Independent media and hacktivists will become more and more important in the years to come, simply to enforce transparency in a world of mass surveillance.

assange-300x200As for whistleblowing, I am quite sure that WikiLeaks will continue to be an important entity in the years to come. As you all know they recently revamped their submission system after four years offline. This is their Tor onion: wlupld3ptjvsgwqw.onion

As for the role of technology in transparency enforcement there are apps and services coming out every day, and newspapers and journalists of all kinds should really be early innovators in this area. We are happy to see that more and more news outlets are starting to use SecureDrop. That said, we are eagerly awaiting services that can deliver encryption so easy to use that all of us will be a little bit safer, and maybe even take back some of our right to privacy.
The Hacker WarsHere you will find a documentary, The Hacker Wars, where you will learn all you need about our heroes – including torrents and paid services.


Article and expressions, but not the images, may be Shared freely. This was written by Kitty Hundal and Raymond Johansen. Thank you for your precious time.

Interwebbed: Cyber and Crypto News for April 24

The Cryptosphere

Exploration of the Source of the Orinoco River by Remedios Varo via LES ENFANTS DE MARX ET DE COCA-COLA on Tumblr Exploration of the Source of the Orinoco River by Remedios Varo via LES ENFANTS DE MARX ET DE COCA-COLA on Tumblr

We made it to Friday, kittens, by the skin of our teeth and the sweat of our brow and the duke of our earl and where were we?

It’s been a long week.

We won’t prolong it any more than we have to, so without further ado, delay, and procrastination, we present your final link roundup of this week!

Considering a career as a spook? Here’s your interview prep checklist: 8 attributes of an effective intel officer. And if you’re going for bonus points, you’ll get me the number of the guy on the right in that picture (Sofrep)

From the It’s Not The Onion Files: Need a hitman? There’s an app for that. (WantChinaTimes)

The Moscow Rules are, unsurprisingly, quite dissimilar to the Cider House rules, which…

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Interwebbed: Cyber and Crypto News for April 23

The Cryptosphere

Liar's by Thomas Hawk on Flickr Liar’s by Thomas Hawk on Flickr

Hacking is thirsty work, kittens, so here’s to the slow, easy downhill jog to the weekend. Today we bring you a deception-focused cyber and crypto news roundup. Your Facebook homies? All Feds. Nonfiction spy memoir? Fiction! That perfectly ordinary London road? Conceals a classic jewel heist tunnel! Read on for all this and even some actual hacking news!

This is some Ocean’s Thirteen shit right here. The first photos of the Hatton Garden Heist are released and…we’re pretty sure the thieves have got a Horta. (TheIndependent)

Earth Day and the rise of Cybersocialism; are technoutopians responsible for the fall of neoliberalism in the West and its rise elsewhere? Hell to the no: #BlameCheney! (Jacobin)

Things Eve knew: Adam was just a first draft. Scientists can now edit human DNA (PopularScience)

Twitter’s tamping down the violent tone of tweets, but will it silence ISIS threats…

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