Honest Theif Part Deux
Gregory Alan Bolcer
gbolcer at endeavors.com
Wed Apr 16 07:37:48 PDT 2003
...or FoRK gets it's April Fools joke
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: The Honest Thief is not so honest
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2003 18:20:00 -0500
From: NW on Peer-to-Peer <Peer-to-Peer at bdcimail.com>
Reply-To: Peer-to-Peer Help <NWReplies at bellevue.com>
Today's focus: The Honest Thief is not so honest
By Ann Harrison
A Dutch company calling itself The Honest Thief, announced in
February that it would take advantage of a pro-P2P court ruling
in the Netherlands and begin licensing its own P2P platform
software to others. The company also said it would provide legal
advice to other P2P services seeking a legal haven for file
trading. As it turned out, The Honest Thief was not so honest.
A notice posted on The Honest Thief Web site on April 1
announced that the "company" was no more than an elaborate hoax
to attract publicity for a book published back in October 2001.
The statement on the Web site reads, "Well, guess what April
Fools! The Honest Thief file-sharing venture was no more than a
The book, "The Honest Thief" released by Greenleaf Book Group,
is allegedly about using "uncommon sense to succeed in business
and in life." But this seems like an uncommonly stupid way to
flog a two-year-old book. Th Honest Thief folks didn't even
bother to tell their Texas public relations company, The Alliant
Group which was hired to promote the site. The PR folks were
understandably miffed to have been duped into participating in
the charade. As for all the news stories about the project, the
incident just highlights how ridiculously easy it is to generate
press attention for a venture with only an idea and a catchy
name. It happened all the time during the dot-com boom.
The IFPL, which represents the international recording industry,
had reported that the venture seemed to be producing nothing by
vaporware. The software was set to be released in the second
quarter and The Alliant Group even announced that a large U.S.
company was signing up as the first customer.
Pieter Plass, the guy who set who set up the stunt, contends
that The Honest Thief caused no harm or financial damage. Aside
from alarming the entertainment industry and embarrassing a few
media outlets, this could be true. What the stunt did do is
direct international attention to the ruling issued by the
Amsterdam Appeals Court, which said that said Kazaa BV could not
be held liable for the copyright-infringing actions of those who
use the Kazaa file-sharing application.
That decision is being appealed at the Supreme Court of the
Netherlands, which is expected to rule in October. But the
decision opens the door for similar rulings in other countries
that could, in theory, refuse to prosecute P2P ventures for
copyright infringement. If the Dutch Supreme Court upholds the
ruling, I predict that a viable P2P venture will indeed launch
itself in Holland offering the very things that The Honest Thief
promised. It may have a hard time gathering much initial
credibility in the business press, but the file traders
themselves would have the last word on whether it's useful and
legally well defended.
To contact: Ann Harrison
Ann Harrison is a technology reporter in San Francisco. She can
be reached at <mailto:ah at well.com>.
Copyright Network World, Inc., 2003
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