Shivering the Timbers of The Pirate Bay, the World's Highest-Profile File-Sharing Site

The next skirmish in the forever war about intellectual property is underway:

The Pirate Bay is the world's most high-profile file-sharing site and is being taken to court by media firms including Sony and Warner Bros.

The men face up to two years in prison and a fine of $143,500, if convicted.

"File-sharing services can be used both legally and illegally," defence lawyer Per Samuelsson said.

Frederik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde Kolmsioppi and Carl Lundstrom have portrayed themselves as digital libertarians and say that they cannot be prosecuted for copyright theft because none of the content is hosted on their computer servers.

The men are accused of "promoting other people's infringements of copyright laws", according to charges filed by senior public prosecutor Haakan Roswall.

Representatives of the movie, music and video games industry are seeking about 115 million kronor (10.6 million euros) in damages and interest for losses incurred from tens of millions of illegal downloads facilitated by the site.

More from the BBC here.

Back in 2003, I argued that stopping downloads wouldn't save the record industry (and I explained that how Napster got me back into buying more music). Stopping downloads (which won't happen anyway) won't help movies or video games either. But it will help destroy those industries by alienating customers.

Reason copyright and IP issues here.

Hat Tip: cris cheek.

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  • Fred||

    It's only a "forever war" in the sense that there is a "forever war" for property rights because thieves want to take something that belongs to somebody else for free.

    It mystifies me how the same people who bitch and moan here about eminent domain have no problem facilitating the theft of intellectual property.

  • ed||

    Stopping downloads...will help destroy those industries by alienating customers

    Bah. People who rant online about boycotts are lying crackpots.

  • Mr. Irony||

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  • Elemenope||

    I built a road. After I finished, someone drove a car on it that was being used in the commission of a bank robbery. Am I liable for the bank robbery?

  • ||

    It's only a "forever war" in the sense that there is a "forever war" for property rights because thieves want to take something that belongs to somebody else for free.

    This whole argument aside (which I disagree with; a configuration of bits is not property), there is the utility issue.

    You just cannot stop this stuff. It's fucking impossible. So instead of increasingly draconian attempts to stop it, that ruin customer experience and often involve government action, come up with a new business model.

    This is like trying to stop people from fucking. You will never, ever succeed. EVER. So don't try.

  • Reinmoose||

    It would kinda be like charging a motel because people go there to sleep with prostitutes.

  • </||

    I'm enjoying my Rolling Stones discography right now.Thank you Pirate Bay!
    I don't have to carry those bulky CDRs around now or worry about making anymore crappy rips of them.Much less the vinyl I bought back in HS.

  • Tyler||

    Property rights protect scarce, tenable resources.

    Intellectual "property" gives a government monopoly the futile power to define and protect the infinite and un-tenable.

    That said, fraud should still be applicable (misrepresenting ideas).

  • Jozef||

    I personally am very uncomfortable with stealing anything, so the only torrents I downloaded were either for free games (I'm a huge fan of independent adventures) or software patches. However, technically I don't see any difference between my strictly legal handling of non-free content (recording TV shows, purchasing or exchanging used CDs) and doing the same on a torrent site. In neither case does the copyright owner get any money from me, and in both cases I get what I want. The only party that may suffer from me using a torrent site is my ISP, as I would clog its tubes. I may feel better about myself staying legal, but I can understand why others wouldn't consider stealing via torrent actual stealing.

  • Sulla||

    It's only a "forever war" in the sense that there is a "forever war" for property rights because thieves want to take something that belongs to somebody else for free.

    It mystifies me how the same people who bitch and moan here about eminent domain have no problem facilitating the theft of intellectual property.


    While I disagree with those who chant meaningless slogans like "Information wants to be free," it is also important to guard against misstatements like calling infrigements of intellectual property "theft" or "piracy." IP grants certain rights, but so does ownership of real property and we don't call trespassers thieves.

  • zero||

    Well, this ought to be the final nail in the coffin for the pirating industry.

  • ||

    Todo:

    1. make a plug-in for firefox offering onion-routing of SSL-packets.

    2. Learn Chineese.

  • robc||

    Information wants to be free

    Information wants to be $5.99.

    Now I need to go look up who I stole that from.

  • robc||

    Don Marti, apparently.

  • That Guy||

    Also, it should be noted that simply pointing out the fact that the industry lawsuits aren't achieving their desired effects isn't the same as endorsing the behavior of those who are infringing on IP rights.

  • ||

    From the updates I have seen so far on Gizmodo and the like, the prosecution has already taken some pretty drastic hits in this case. A bunch of charges were dismissed the other day. I'll hunt around and try to find a link.

  • ||

    I use the phone-book to crank call somebody, have the Yellow Pages participated in the crime.

  • ||

    Ahh, here we go:
    http://i.gizmodo.com/5155716/pirate-bay-trial-watch-day-3-the-legendary-king-kong-defense

    So the prosecution is presenting amended charges. Sounds like it will come down to trying to establish a tie between the Pirate Bay facilitators and the individual users who are actually sharing copyrighted content. I just don't see them being shut down if things keep moving in this direction.

  • ||

    While these cases do help further define society's (or atleast government's) definition with regards to copyright laws, Song, BMG, etc are fighting to hold back a tide of technology that has already come in and is drowning them. The era of big entertainment company control is gone and they're fighting over a smaller and smaller market segment. They could win all these court cases and still go bankrupt and I anticipate they will.

  • davidstvz||

    "I built a road. After I finished, someone drove a car on it that was being used in the commission of a bank robbery. Am I liable for the bank robbery?"

    If you built the road with the intent of facilitating and profiting from other people's use of the road for robbing banks, then you probably should be.

    "I use the phone-book to crank call somebody, have the Yellow Pages participated in the crime."

    See above.

  • Billy!||

    Maybe calling themselves the "Pirate Bay" wasn't exactly the best way to play down any copyright issues.

    That's like calling your barely legal porn company "We Don't Check ID's Too Strenuously Productions".

  • robc||

    We Don't Check ID's Too Strenuously

    I remember that bar from college.

  • T||

    This is like trying to stop people from fucking. You will never, ever succeed. EVER. So don't try.

    Or, as a buddy once said about the WoD: It's unwinnable. Motherfuckers wanna get high.

  • Fred||

    You all gave some great non sequitir examples.

    Now, for a real example...

    You own a gun, leave it loaded, laying on your coffee table, and your child kills another child while playing with it. If you fail to take proper precautions with the things you are own, you are liable for negligence. This website is not a road; it is not a common resource. It is private property.

    And as for IP being "arrangements of bits," I would say that that argument should mean that I can do what I want with 80% of American income since it is derived from selling services, not a "scare" (material) resource.

  • Sulla||

    You all gave some great non sequitir examples.

    Now, for a real example...

    You own a gun, leave it loaded, laying on your coffee table, and your child kills another child while playing with it. If you fail to take proper precautions with the things you are own, you are liable for negligence. This website is not a road; it is not a common resource. It is private property.


    But it is private property that is used for various purposes, both legitimate and illegitimate. A toll road may be private property and we don't hold toll road operators liable for every illegimate act facilitated by their road. To what extent website operators have a duty to prevent illegitimate uses is a difficult question made no easier by scary comparisons to leaving a loaded gun lying around.


    And as for IP being "arrangements of bits," I would say that that argument should mean that I can do what I want with 80% of American income since it is derived from selling services, not a "scare" (material) resource.

    Um, who made an argument about arrangements of bits? To the extent that is applicable it merely shows that people who rely on third parties to protect their property (because their rights in the property are easily infringed) must be willing to accept the restrictions those third parties place on the protection.

  • cunnivore||

    it should be noted that simply pointing out the fact that the industry lawsuits aren't achieving their desired effects isn't the same as endorsing the behavior of those who are infringing on IP rights.

    This is Reason we're talking about. It's quite clear which side they're on.

    If they were just reporting on how stupid the record industry is, with no ulterior motives, they would at least add in a throwaway line once in a while about how record companies have every right to fuck up their business and alienate to their hearts' content. But such lines never appear, and we are goaded into sympathizing with thieves.

    And yes, I use the word thieves, Sulla; just as I would use the word for someone who hacks into your bank account and transfers funds out of it, or someone who gets a haircut and then runs out of the barber shop without paying, even though neither of these involve a tangible item being taken.

  • Sulla||

    When did I ever say anything about tangibility?
    Theft is generally understood to be the taking of the property of another with the intent to deprive them of it. Someone who hacks into my bank account is taking my money and depriving me of it. Stiffing the barber sounds more like fraud or unjust enrichment to me; there is no property yet.

    My point was that IP is not exactly like personal property. We don't call trespassers thieves even though they infringe your right to exclude people from your personal property. IP is tough to pin down because by its nature it requires distribution in some form to be useful and it is almost impossible to take IP with the intent to deprive the owner of it. I'm sympathetic to concerns about lost sales, but this almost always is so speculative that it is unreasonable to call it theft.

    For the record, I support copyright and oppose infringement. That being said, I think the terms are too long, that small scale infringement should be civil violations punishable by modest fines, not crimes, and that fair use should be more protected.

  • Sulla||

    We don't call trespassers thieves even though they infringe your right to exclude people from your personal real property.

  • ||

    "You own a gun, leave it loaded, laying on your coffee table, and your child kills another child while playing with it."

    So ban the guns? That argument will go over well.

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