"Pirate Cinema" shows downloaded movies in Helsinki squat
One organiser arrested
On Wednesday evening in a house occupied by young squatters in the Helsinki district of Vallila, films downloaded from the Internet were being shown for free in what is called the Pirate Cinema.
About 20 young people sat on threadbare chairs to watch the film Planet Terror by Robert Rodriguez. The projection system involves a laptop computer and a video projector. Popcorn and drinks are sold on the side.
"I am interested in seeing how this works in Finland. In Britain these kinds of shows are more common, but they focus on music", says Laura Kivelä, who is attending a Pirate Cinema screening.
She complains that film culture in Finland has worn thin, with cinemas run by Finnkino being the only places where movies can be watched outside the home.
Pirate Cinema organisers say that their aim is to show the discrepancy between laws and how people really act.
"It is ridiculous that under the new copyright law, a large number of people are criminals", says one organiser, adding that present copyright legislation only benefits large companies and individual artists who have risen to the level of big stars. In his view, most artists do not live on their art.
"Copyrights do not solve the livelihood of culture workers, and the enforcement of piracy laws will not promote it", the activist says.
So how should artists earn a living, if not by selling their works?
"Basic income", is the answer.
After two films are shown, the organisers leave the occupied house. However, outside there is a surprise waiting: the police.
The Copyright Information and Anti-piracy Centre (CIAPC) asked the police to investigate the screenings. According to eyewitnesses, three police cars stop the car driven by the organisers, one of whom is arrested. The laptop is confiscated.
The organisers face charges of violating copyright law; the viewers have not broken any laws.
"Pirate cinema confronts oppression", proclaims the squatters' website soon after the event.
On Thursday the activists hold a demonstration at the Pasila police headquarters. About 30 young people blowing whistles and banging pots express their support for the organiser who was arrested.
"We are pleased that officials have taken action", says Antti Kotilainen, executive director of (CIAPC).
He is somewhat amused by the activists' criticism of the film industry.
"They say that they are anarchists, fighting against big movie moguls. Then the only recreation that they have is to show movies produced by the companies that they despise so much."
Kotilainen does not accept the argument that the existence of widespread illegal distribution on the Internet would be a reason to relax copyright legislation. He compares illegal distribution with shoplifting.
"Even though the file that is distributed is intangible, it involves someone's livelihood."
One copyright legislation expert, Professor Jukka Kemppinen sees the Pirate Cinema action as a deliberate provocation.
He says that although it is illegal, there is no point in making a big issue out of it.
"It is no more illegal than showing a legally rented DVD to residents of an apartment building after an afternoon of volunteer work."
Copyright Information and Anti-piracy Centre (CIAPC)