Intellectual Property

Pirates Captured!

|


We Are All Seadogs Now

The verdict's in for the four Swedes behind the BitTorrent site The Pirate Bay. Guilty.

In Sweden today, the court ruled the website's three founders and their backer were responsible for "assisting making available copyrighted content" and the scallywags were ordered to pay about $3.6 million to several entertainment companies as well as serve a year in prison.  

According to the Guardian:

[Prosecutors] were forced to drop the charge of "assisting copyright infringement" and focus on the lesser charge of "assisting making available copyrighted content". They had been seeking [$13.5 million] in compensation for loss of earnings due to the millions of illegal downloads facilitated by the site.

The case was (is?) a high-profile one, with both sides stressing the verdict's importance:

The chairman of the Swedish Independent Music Producers Association, Jonas Sjöström, said as the trial concluded that the consortium is "tired and sick of services like The Pirate Bay who have no understanding or respect for the creative community, and instead have their own financial interests at heart."

So it's all over, right? The only thing left is to close those laptops, disconnect the Internet and walk to the nearest record store for any musical needs. Haha…sure.

The Pirates have refused to go gentle into that good night. They are rage-raging, having promised to keep site open as they make appeals both in and out of court:

So, the dice courts judgement is here. It was lol to read and hear, crazy verdict.

But as in all good movies, the heroes lose in the beginning but have an epic victory in the end anyhow. That's the only thing hollywood ever taught us.

Yesterday, Wired said the verdict would be a win-win for The Pirate Bay. A verdict in their favor would have made file sharing essentially legal. The loss, however, turns them into stubborn martyrs, a role they are really playing up.

The verdict is also a lose-lose for entertainment companies. If they managed to somehow close down The Pirate Bay, Internet users would (and are) finding new ways, like streaming or other BitTorrent services, to avoid getting caught for copyright infringement. And, as Wired notes, any press is good press, at least for The Pirate Bay:  

For now, the attention brought by the highly-publicized trial has only made The Pirate Bay more popular. The site has swelled to some 22 million users. And thousands of Pirate Bay fans have flocked to sign up for its new $6 anonymization VPN service, which allows torrent feeders and seeders to conduct their business in private without leaving a trace of their Internet IP addresses.

And since the trial began, membership in Sweden's copyright reform Pirate Party has grown 50 percent, while its youth affiliate is now the second largest in Sweden.

If the staunch, antiquated fighting of record companies and the rebellious antics of The Pirate Bay continue for some time, it may not be necessary to download any files. It may be that the virtual high seas battles are entertainment enough.

Friend-o-Reason Cory Doctorow, over at Boing Boing, has got the 4-1-1 on the pirate trial. Stephen J. Dubner at the Freakonomics blog wonders if it's time to stop using the term "Digital Piracy." Reason coverage of The Pirate Bay near, dear and here. In 2003, Reason.tv Editor Nick Gillespie said stopping downloads won't help entertainment companies.