The Pirate ship must sail into the sunset – but if you believe that you must be as inept as our politicians
The music industry has won its case against the ISPs in the High Court. Of course, it wasn’t targeted at the ISPs (they didn’t ‘defend’ themselves), it was targeted at The Pirate Bay. The music industry wants the ISPs to block access to The Pirate Bay (I’ve written about it on Infosecurity Magazine: It is confirmed: The Pirate Bay is a pirate). They’ve won, and TPB will almost certainly be blocked by UK ISPs come this summer.
It’s all very contorted logic and all pretty pointless. The Pirate Bay doesn’t host the files in question; so how are they logically guilty of breaching copyright? It is because they facilitate and even encourage the act. But how is that really different from a motor manufacturer who advertises, boasts about, and sells a motor car capable of exceeding the legal speed limit? Is the motor industry equally guilty of facilitating and encouraging breaches of the speeding laws?
The ISPs absented themselves from the argument. Their position is that they will do what they’re told. That’s sad. I had hoped that they would fight tooth and nail for their customers. I used Pirate Bay just recently to look at a copy of the supposed correspondence between Symantec and the pcAnywhere hacker. As a journalist, I didn’t merely have a right to do that, I had a duty to do that – so I don’t believe I broke the law in doing it, nor that TPB broke the law in allowing me to do that. But lawful use of TPB by lawful users is going to be penalised because of the unlawful acts of copyright infringers downloading from somewhere else.
It’s just that TPB is the easy target. Prosecuting individual downloaders is more difficult and more expensive even if more logical. So instead, the solution is to prevent everyone, lawful and unlawful, gaining access to TPB for both lawful and unlawful purposes. When you use a sledgehammer to crack a walnut, you generally end up smashing the nut as well as the shell.
And, as I said, it’s all so pointless. Righard Zwienenberg, a senior research fellow with ESET in The Netherlands, gave me the Dutch experience.
In The Netherlands, he told me, two of the largest ISPs, Ziggo and XS4All, are required by court order to block TPB. They are appealing (which is more than I can say for the music industry – or even the UK lilly-livered ISPs; but I digress). For now, the blockade stays on PirateBay.org and its (pre-listed) IP numbers. Smaller ISPs were pressured to join the blockade, but declined.
“And of course,” says Righard, “the block does not work.” Using a foreign proxy or TOR will simply bypass the blockade. “We also suddenly have PirateBay.nl, PiratenBay.nl/org, and others that are all identical copies of the original PirateBay.org, and that are not blocked as they do not belong to PirateBay.org. So their IP numbers do not fall under the verdict of the court.”
Righard believes that this sort of action does little to help prevent piracy, and nothing to promote the music industry. “There are so many other Torrent sites to use. And the site itself does not carry any illegal content. It’s more like the ads section of a newspaper. If I want to sell my old vinyl records, will the newspaper first check if they are not stolen? If I want to sell music tapes, will they check if they are original or copies?”