A school teacher who uploaded a history book on his website as a free educational resource for poor students faces two years in jail, forced labour, or a fine for daring to offend the Latvian government's closest chums.
The $4 book was posted by Pāvels Jurs, a teacher in Latvia, who created his site so that children from poor families can still have access to education. His efforts had been praised by the Ministry of Education.
According to TV Net, which we ran through Google translate, Zvaigzne ABC has taken a line against piracy which would be seen as a little over the top even by others in Big Content. It works on the principle that even the most minor case of piracy should be dealt with by going thermonuclear.
Jurs was leaving home to go to school and found himself confronted by four police officers from the Economic Crime Bureau. They proceeded to search Jurs' home and confiscate the computer he uses in his teaching job. He was arrested and subjected to two hours of interrogation during which he learned he had committed a serious offence that could result in a two year jail sentence.
The site has been shut down, so poor kids will not have access to books either copyrighted or not.
Zvaigzne ABC has had words with Jurs before and he admitted that he had violated copyright but it was not clear what had to be removed from the site. Apparently the two sides have now come to an agreement, but the question was, why were the police involved and have the charges been dropped now that Jurs has reached a settlement with the publishers?
If that were the case then it would mean that the police, funded by the taxpayer, were being used as enforcers for Zvaigne's anti-piracy policy. It is also unusual that a police force would act in this way unless it had sanction from higher ups.
Slashdot claims that Zvaigzne ABC has a near monopoly of the school text book market in Finland and has close connections to the Ministry of Education. It is difficult to find a source for these allegations. In fact, reports from Finland have the Department saying that this was a matter of copyright and outside its jurisdiction.
But this would not be the first time that Big Content has used tax-payer founded police as its own personal enforcers. The most obvious case is that of Mega, where Big Content used its chums in the Department of Justice , who called up favours within the New Zealand Police force, as it turns out, illegally.