Officials in the United Kingdom have made a bold move in the Internet copyright infringement and online piracy battle; they’ve ordered broadband providers to block infamous torrent search engine, The Pirate Bay.
But many feel the High Court’s decision will do little, if anything, to thwart pirates’ online piracy plans.
What Is The Pirate Bay? Why Do Officials Consider It Such An Online Piracy Threat
Nearly every article about online copyright infringement law mentions ubiquitous torrent site, The Pirate Bay. One of the most well-trafficked websites in the world, The Pirate Bay consistently ranks in Alexa’s top 100 worldwide.
Now you may be wondering, “well, if it’s a known site for online piracy, why can’t governments shut them down easily?” The legal crux is in the nature of the website itself. You see, The Pirate Bay does not host any illegal torrents on its servers; it simply acts as a search engine for said torrents. And since many countries legally prescribe to the precedent that linking to material alleged to be in violation of intellectual property statutes is not illegal, it’s tough to find a way to shut down these sites without walking dangerously close to the censorship line.
High Court’s Online Piracy Decision
Despite the fact that The Pirate Bay only acts as a search engine, and does not host the actual infringing content, Justice Arnold of the England and Wales High Court decried that the website “actively encourages copyright infringement” on a “grand scale.” The judge also chastised the site’s operators, saying that they treat “any attempts to prevent [copyright infringement] with contempt.” He also opined that The Pirate Bay was undermining new British musical talent.
And then Judge Arnold dropped the bomb and passed an edict that broadband companies must block The Pirate Bay.
TalkTalk, O2, Virgin Media, Everything Everywhere and Sky have all announced their plans to comply. BT is still reviewing the proposal, but are expected to fall in line as well.
According to various reports, the broadband companies will be using technology similar to pornography blocking software.
Will The UK High Court’s Ruling Effectively Combat Online Piracy?
The question is, though, will the UK High Court’s decision actually succeed in combating online copyright infringement? Most tech-savvy people are saying, “probably not.”
After all, those who actively use torrent sites also know how to block their IP address and other handy illegal downloading tricks of the trade. In fact, TorrentFreak.com has already published an article explaining how users can take advantage of programs like i2p TOR, and other VPN options; they also advocate switching to an open DNS. The UK pirate party has also announced plans to operate a “proxy workaround.”
Moreover, analysts point out that by taking such an extreme action against online piracy, the court has inadvertently made the pirates Robin Hood-esque heroes. Not to mention that this ruling puts the cost onus on the ISPs, not the infringers.
And as they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Since the news broke about shutting down The Pirate Bay in the UK, operators of the site say they have seen 12 million new visitors to the site.
Bottom line: blocking access to torrent sites is going to do very little to stop online piracy. And we can chase the problem with laws all we want to no avail. The truth is that some of these media distributors should probably start looking for more innovative ways to deliver content to the masses more quickly. After all, it’s the Internet-age, and I bet the movie studio or record label that first figures out a way to satiate our instant gratification needs, at a “new economy” price-point, will reap significant financial rewards and turn a large portion of the online pirates into paying customers.