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Recently, several Finnish mainstream media outlets have targeted Finnish SOTT.net, accusing it of copyright law infringement. Among those who have made these allegations are Sanoma Oyj (the owner of Helsingin Sanomat - the largest subscription newspaper in Finland and the Nordic countries), STT (Finnish News Agency) and Yleisradio (the main Finnish Broadcasting Company). Some have even accused us of "outrageous business" because we reproduce and comment on articles from other sources.

While we understand that media companies want to defend their business, considering the massive amount of news offered today and the near monopoly-status these companies enjoy in the Finnish information market, their "outrage" on this issue seems somewhat excessive, if not specious. More to the point, while copyright laws play an important role in any supposed democratic society, the interpretation of these laws is far from unambiguous.

The first point everyone needs to understand is that SOTT.net operates within the limits of fair use, based on the non-commercial and research nature of our content (see quotes below). Secondly, the Finnish mainstream media, (like the mainstream media of other EU nations) serves as a mouthpiece for vested political and corporate interests and, in pursuing that aim, often acts hypocritically and accuses others of that which they themselves are guilty of (e.g. the restriction of freedom of speech and "trolling").

This article should not be taken as an act of revenge or a war of words, but rather as an exercise in contextual social research. Such research is very much in keeping with the mission statement of SOTT.net - to explore social phenomena within various contexts. So what is the context in this case? The evidence from our research strongly suggests that the Finnish mainstream media would like Sott.net to quietly fade away from the information scene. It is obvious that the various mainstream media outlets seek to maintain their self-styled role of the official "bugle of truth", enjoying the exclusive confidence of citizens. It is equally obvious that those in the ivory tower are not pleased with the fact that we analyse world events that are either ignored or 'spun' by the mainstream, engage in critical commentary on "official" news, bring alternative perspectives and interpretations to generally "accepted truths" and expose mainstream media propaganda campaigns.

Shining the Light

SOTT-lighthouse
© Pixabay/44833
SOTT.net is often compared to a lighthouse that shines the light of truth into the darkness of media lies and manipulation. The English website has been live since 2002 and our readership is counted in millions (2014 approx. 18 million users). The Finnish site was established recently to reach a wider audience of non-English speakers, so that they too might benefit from our research. We have already received a lot of positive feedback, especially about our contextual commentary that accompanies most articles and our regular original content. Most sincere media experts and writers on social issues have been pleased when their articles appear on our website because it means they reach a wider and more diverse audience.

As a result of the litigious rants from Finnish media companies' lawyers, the future of the Finnish SOTT.net site hangs in the balance - our research project has lost important material due to the removal of a vast number of articles. Working voluntarily and in their spare time, the small number of editors are already overwhelmed in trying to collect evidence in order to "connect the dots". After reading this article we hope readers will offer their opinion on this matter [e-mail sott@sott.net]. Do you feel that there is a demand and need for a multi-lingual angle to Sott.net including the Finnish SOTT site? The English pages will naturally retain their operation, thus answering the needs of millions of readers.

On the non-commercial nature of SOTT.net's research

One of our most important goals is to archive news in our database, so that the articles do not disappear from the Internet. Here are a few excerpts from our about page.
The raison d'être for SOTT's fully reproduced non-original content collection is something that makes us a bit different. We notice that a lot of material disappears from the web, and we database full articles for a particular purpose: analyzing the "energetic flows".
By "energetic flows," we mean, for example, geopolitical forces that affect the mutuality of global societies and the direction of their internal change and development. We aim to "connect the dots" between what at first may seem to be separate, unrelated news reports. We do this because the mainstream media news lacks an overall global view and does not take a past, present and future cause-effect approach in its reporting. In short, SOTT.net is something of a scientific experiment.
We have analysis systems that are tied to our database, and that is part of our scientific work - rather like counting photons that hit a detector. We are also working on an interactive history/current events timeline program as well as a mapping system. We would not be able to do any of that without the material we have in our database. Thus, the reason for our inclusion of complete articles from other authors is rather specific, and is essential to make Sott.net what it is!
SOTT.net works and is maintained entirely through voluntary journalists who do not receive payment for their work. Through the help of voluntary donations from readers we are able to cover the required costs and expenses. We do this work from the pure desire to understand the world around us as objectively as possible. Therefore, we deal with a wide range of subjects, and we go where the mainstream media is unable or unwilling to. No commercial advertisements can be found on our website, and we do not have any connections with third parties. We are not shackled by economic or political conflicts of interest.
Today, SOTT is comprised of an international body of almost 150 volunteer editors, including many leading-edge professionals in the so-called hard sciences, medicine, history, sociology, psychology, engineering, and information technology. Whatever the topic, SOTT.net has an expert (or two!) who handles content in that particular field. [...] We have considered just databasing complete articles and making SOTT private, but as a non-profit organization, we are required to make the results of our work available to the public for free.
The fact that our operations are completely non-commercial has remained unnoticed by many critics. For example, Petri Korhonen, the managing editor of the largest subscription newspaper in Finland, Helsingin Sanomat, has taken to twitter to accuse Sott.net of benefiting commercially at the expense of the website content of others.

Korhonen has missed one small fact in his tweet: Sott.net does not make money from any content. As our fair use notice reads clearly:
Quantum Future Group, Inc. is a registered 501 (c) (3) nonprofit U.S. corporation, and Sott.net (Signs of the Times) is a research and news project of QFG ...
The same exemptions are demonstrated in the terms and conditions towards non-profit organizations by the European Parliament Directive 2001/29//EC:
(a) use for the sole purpose of illustration for teaching or scientific research, as long as the source, including the author's name, is indicated, unless this turns out to be impossible and to the extent justified by the non-commercial purpose to be achieved;

(c) reproduction by the press, communication to the public or making available of published articles on current economic, political or religious topics or of broadcast works or other subject-matter of the same character, in cases where such use is not expressly reserved, and as long as the source, including the author's name, is indicated, or use of works or other subject-matter in connection with the reporting of current events, to the extent justified by the informatory purpose and as long as the source, including the author's name, is indicated, unless this turns out to be impossible;
Sott.net fulfills these criteria. In a world where news is big, profitable business with a definite political agenda, it can be difficult to understand that the free proliferation of knowledge and understanding should come before the "interests of the shareholders" or in many cases, the interests of directors' fat paychecks. Yet surely public accessibility to the truth about world events is more important? Does the Finnish media wish to close SOTT.net, because truthful news coverage is perceived as a threat to the mainstream media's market position? If an increasing number of people started to lose faith in a mainstream media largely beholden to vested political interests, would that be a bad thing? If so, for whom?

Sanomatalo

Sanoma Corporation's head office. Does the Finnish mainstream media experience alternative media as a threat to their dominant position?

The hypocrisy of the Finnish media - number one in freedom of the press?


About a month ago, Finland was once again listed as the number one country when it comes to 'freedom of the press'. "Helsingin Sanomat" reports:
Finland has remained a model country in freedom of speech for years in various listings of different freedom of speech organizations. Reporters Without Borders listed Finland as the number one for the sixth time.
The methods which Reporters Without Borders uses to measure freedom of speech are based on certain criteria, which are collected from different sources via questionnaires:
It is based partly on a questionnaire, which is sent to partner organizations (18 advocacy groups in all five continents focused on freedom of speech), network of 150 correspondents, journalists, researchers, lawyers and human rights activists.
The questionnaire collects information about arrests of journalists, kidnappings, assaults and censorship, among others. Other criteria are the respondents' perception of issues like pluralism, the independence and transparency of the media, rightfulness of the judicial environment, and how well the local infrastructure supports and enables the producing of news.

Reporters Without Borders makes an extremely important observation about the results of the index:
The index should be in no way be taken as an indication of the quality of the media in the countries concerned.
What that means is that just because a society is relatively peaceful and balanced and no reporters are killed or assaulted, it does not necessarily mean that the quality of the journalism is of an especially high quality, nor that it is impartial. The Porttikielto Poriin ("Banned from Pori") short documentary reveals how Finnish media and Finnish corporate lobbyists are intricately connected. So in Finland, while we don't 'officially' have corruption, we have an "old boys' club", where inside a small circle, the corporations, politicians and media representatives conspire (shock! horror!) to further their mutual interests:
"If one wishes to enter the inner circle, one must understand how wealth and prosperity are a bubble, inside which the bread, the wine and most of all values, are shared in a brotherly fashion. The Smiths and Johnsons and Joneses hover outside this bubble, like dream figures. They are a band of fuzzy animals, whose specific behaviors are followed from inside the bubble with an indifferent amusement. Break the rules, and the party is over for you."
The few Finnish reporters who are capable of independent thinking and oppose the official narratives face pressure and harassment. Michael Parenti, a respected American author and academic, has written and lectured about the relationship between media and politics, the concentration of ownership and the restriction of freedom of speech. He encapsulates the problems of the Western media and so-called freedom of speech:
"You can say what you want, because they like what you say. You don't notice the leash around your neck, if you stand still. You will pay attention to the confines only when you try to move further."
In the Western world, media freedom means the freedom to operate and publish news within certain confines, the borders of which are defined by the corporations that own the mass media. It's a rather challenging task for a journalist to produce a truthful article that deals, for example, with corporate corruption, especially if the corporation in question owns the media company that the journalist works for.

For example, Antti Herlin is the chairman of the board and one of the largest shareholders of Sanoma Oyj., the largest media company in Finland and the second largest in the Nordic countries. Herlin is the richest person in Finland and also the chairman of the board of Kone Inc. (Herlin's brother, Niklas, is one of the biggest shareholders in Finland's second largest media concern, Alma Media).

Former Finnish and European MP, Esko Seppänen, has commented on the growth of Antti Herlin's stock wealth through holding-companies:
According to Seppänen, the value of Antti Herlin's stock wealth has risen in ten years from less than 400 million (2004) to over 3 billion (2014) euros.

This doesn't show in his personal taxable income due to the simple reason; that the dividends of Kone are mostly paid to Holding-Manutas Inc. and Security Trading Inc. instead of Antti.

According to Seppänen, Antti Herlin has received dividends from Kone (2009-2013) that amount to over 9 million euros. Instead Holding-Manutas Inc. has received dividends of 490 million and Security Trading Inc. 140 million euros.

Through these companies Antti Herlin is overwhelmingly the largest receiver of dividends in Finland. During the last five years of low growth, his companies have accumulated more dividends than Aatos Erkko during his lifetime, who received and had more shares to his own name than anyone ever in Finland, Seppänen points out.
In Finland, you receive notable tax cuts on dividends, when they are invested as capital in a company. How likely do you think it would be, that Helsingin Sanomat - the largest subscription newspaper in Finland and the Nordic countries - would do an in-depth, critical article addressing the moral questions of Herlin's growth of wealth, when that newspaper is owned by Herlin's own company, Sanoma Oyj.?
Eturistiriita

"You can say what you want, because they like what you say. You don't notice the leash around your neck, if you stand still. You will pay attention to the confines only when you try to move further."

Tinfoil hatters and trolls


Something else that probably annoyed Petri Korhonen and compelled him and his minions to take a swipe at Sott.net on twitter, is our penchant for questioning official narratives promoted by governments. Korhonen has made it clear that he thinks that doing so is inappropriate, especially when it concerns the West's official line on Russia. According to Korhonen, anyone who thinks NATO is the aggressor must be a "Russian troll" and a "tinfoil hatter". Korhonen seems worried by the increasing number of these mysterious trolls that are invading his sanitized world where the West is the promoter of 'freedom and democracy'. In this editorial, he states the following:
"Instead, the community of Finnish Kremlin-sympathizers immediately started a personal campaign against the editors who have written about trolling-issues. This week, the heads of many media houses have received plenty of emails, about various disclosures of their connections to Freemasons, NATO-soldiers and reptilians."
Korhonen likes to bundle all dissidents into this category of "tinfoil hatters". Here's an example of what he thinks of the Finnish alternative news site Vastavalkea:

Translation of tweet:
"Interesting new indie #media. But could folks do these without the #tinfoilhat mantra #MSM #conspiracy #Bilderberg? vastavalkea.fi
We don't share Korhonen's opinion. In fact, the site Vastavalkea appears to us to be very professional and factual in every way, i.e. it's very non-tinfoil hatty. Interestingly, a Google search for the word 'conspiracy' on the above mentioned alt. news site returns zero hits.

In the following twitter feed, Korhonen comments on a letter sent out all to Finnish military reservists. This letter from the army high command sets out the reservists' roles in the event of war. This kind of letter has not been sent in decades, and is quite an exceptional procedure. The army of course says it's routine, and it has been planned for years. The Finnish organization of conscientious objectors (Aseistakieltäytyjäliitto) recently published a press release highlighting the recent increase in resignations from the Finnish armed forces. One of the most common reasons given for resigning was Finland's snuggling up to NATO. Those who have resigned were, naturally, bundled into the 'tinfoil hat wearer' category by Korhonen.

Translation of tweet:
Mikael Jungner: That letter by the army to the reservists is an excellent operation, at least communicatively.

Petri Korhonen: @MikaelJugner Hilarious: Army starts to draft letter in 2013. Now, when it's finally ready, the tinfoil hatters are sure it's because of #Ukraine & NATO-ization
Labeling those who express a different opinion to that sanctioned by the government, calling them "tinfoil hatters" is a rather pathetic and overused ploy to close down debate. It is most often used by authoritarian followers, that particular type of creature who, lacking any inherent authority of their own, are emotionally compelled to elevate every statement by the established authorities to the level of unassailable gospel truth, and the facts be damned (and those that speak them slandered). So much for investigative journalism and freedom of speech! Korhonen then switches into high gear and classifies those with a dissenting worldview as believers in "Freemason conspiracies" and "reptilian humanoids". And all this comes from the managing editor of the largest newspaper in Scandinavia. Sad.

SOTT.net has also had it's share of childish name-calling. Korhonen has, for example, posted other defamatory tweets about Sott that appear to have been provoked by the Sott editorial 'Give us Finland and Poland'. Korhonen obviously didn't like the anti-NATO tone we took in the editorial, or the fact that we used hard facts to back up our argument, so he responded with slurs.
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After trying to associate us with "chemtrails" and "NWO", Korhonen eventually decided that we're hooked up with "fascist groups". We're dismayed, not necessarily at the idiocy of Korhonen's comments, but that they are made by the editor-in-chief of a major European newspaper. Then again, it simply proves to us, yet again, that there is a dire need for responsible, informed journalism like our readers get at Sott.net. Thanks for the reminder Petri!

We did find it curious however that Sanoma Oyj - a leading media group in the Nordic countries with operations in over 10 European countries - contacted our lawyers concerning these "copyright issues" just three days after we published the 'Give us Finland and Poland' editorial on March 22nd. In that editorial we highlighted the strange consistency of the propaganda in several Finnish newspapers, including Helsingin Sanomat, Ilta-Sanomat and Iltalehti. Then during late May and early June we received complaints from Yleisradio, Finland's national public-broadcasting company, and STT, another Finnish news agency. It wasn't long before we realised that many of these newspapers and media companies have direct ties to each other. HS and Ilta-Sanomat are published by Media Finland (a subsidiary of Sanoma Oyj). Sanoma Oyj is also the biggest share holder of STT (Finnish News Agency). So maybe the problem is not "copyright" issues but the fact that we hit a little too close to the bone.

It has also been interesting to note how certain geopolitical writers with a "troll-agenda", acting within their inner circles, have become active in writing accusations about our site. For example, Janne Riiheläinen, who writes for Helsingin Sanomat (surprise!) tweeted the following:

Translation of tweet:
Now not only domestic distributors of Kremlin disinfo, now we have an original troll-media in Finnish. #informationwar #security fi.sott.net
Also, in the tragicomic article by Yle's Kioski, where the author hysterically explains that "Russian trolls are manipulating all of Finland", SOTT is listed as one of the 'top Russian-trolls'! The author of that article has even compared our editors to monkeys, Russian, we presume. In the article the author offers this dire warning:
The study conducted by Kioski revealed that the trolls who disseminate the propaganda messages by the Russian leadership, try to silence and deceive the Finnish people, and also manipulate public discussion on the internet. The means used by these trolls include name-calling, distortion of messages and massive propagation of disinformation.
Hmmm... "try to silence and deceive", "manipulate the discussion", "name-calling", and "distortion of messages". That's a pretty good summation of what Western media journalists have been producing for the last 100 years! In fact, Petri and his Finnish media friends provide a very good example of precisely this kind of manipulation and name-calling in their tweets! Thanks again, Petri! And talking about silencing freedom of speech, a perfect example of this is to found in the entire Russian-trolling shtick that has been pushed by the Western media for the last 18 months! Of course, the fact that most of the dramatic 'revelations' by the MSM have later been exposed as entirely false is of no real concern to these shills for Western warmongers because, in the end, spreading disinformation is what they're paid to do!

So, who are the real trolls here?
Trolls John Bauer
© John Bauer (1915)
Journalists making accusations of trolling, appear in fact as trolls themselves. This is not surprising, since people suffering from confirmation bias often accuse others of doing the things they are guilty of doing themselves. This is called projection.
The people behind our site are fed up with the lies. SOTT.net, as it was launched, belonged to the first completely independent and nonpartisan internet media in the world. The highly centralized and controlled mainstream media behaves aggressively towards the real free press because we are doing the job they should be doing, and would be doing if it wasn't for the fact that they are entirely beholden to Western government and corporate interests, which invariably involve keeping the population ignorant and afraid. For them, journalism is about maximizing the profits of the shareholders and supporting the predatory goals of the "market economy". As a non-profit organization, we see things differently: with our research project, we want to further the efficiency and effects of the research done in the scientific and sociocultural fields, bringing forward solutions to the suffering and misery of humankind.

As a non-profit organization we can only truly serve society if we are not bound to the dictates of global enterprises and other malevolent political forces. Only in this way can we be free to uncover and share the truth that is desperately missing from the dominant global discourse. We understand the applicability today of what George Orwell wrote many decades ago: that "during the times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act". Are we revolutionaries? No. Although we may seem to be to those who make a living from propagating lies.

This article was translated from the original at fi.Sott.net