“Its operators line their pockets by commercially exploiting music and other creative works without paying a penny to the people who created them.” Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive at the BPI
Initially when I read this quote, I thought to myself, “Well Geoff, isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?” I only heard late last night that the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) had succeeded in acquiring a court order forcing British ISPs to block access to The Pirate Bay (TPB), a great victory in the war on drugs, I mean, piracy. Sadly, it seems like the RIAA, the BPI are not the brightest bunch.
Firstly, blocking direct access to the website will only stop people who are less tech savvy. At least for a short while. It won’t be long until one of these less savvy people gets the bright idea to google “How do I access the Pirate Bay in the UK” and be awash with dozens of potential ways to work around the BPI’s blockade. I mean, I’m amazed at how many people have figured out how to use torrents, and I’m pretty sure if they can figure out how to use torrents, they will figure out a way around the BPI.
Secondly, the BPI is going after TPB like they are the only torrent indexing site in the world. I’m not going to mention any others by name, just in case someone from the BPI reads this and decides to go after them. The last thing I need is a bunch of angry British pirates waving their cutlasses and demanding that I step outside so they can make me walk the plank. But yes, there are dozens more public, invite only, and completely private bittorrent indexing sites all over the planet. TPB is just one website, which technically does nothing illegal. It’s pretty much a glorified Google, albeit for torrents.
I also can’t help but feel this is pretty similar to the Megaupload case in the States. How you may ask?
Megaupload was starting to promote musicians and other artists, and had several big celebrities, such as Kanye West and Alicia Keys, in a song to promote the service. Wait, why would artists be promoting a service that allowed people to steal from them? Or maybe it’s a digital service that was bypassing the need to go through middle men such as record labels?
“Quick, get all the head honchos on the line, we have a situation. I don’t care if they’re snorting cocaine laced with diamonds using $100 bills! Get them now!”
It seemed the first to react was Universal Music Group, who managed to get the song pulled down from Youtube, since it apparently infringed upon some of UMG’s rights. To this day no one knows what rights were infringed upon, and the song has since returned to Youtube. But it seems that Megaupload had scared the wrong people, who saw a glimpse of the future and simultaneously evacuated their bowels. Before they even managed to clean themselves up, they paid a ton of money to the right (or wrong, depending on your point of view) people in the US government, to make sure the site went down. The US government went after the site, and are doing their best to ensure it stays down. There’s a ton of controversy around the court case, such as the government refusing to return funds to Megaupload so they can pay for outstanding bills, or certain law firms being dissuaded (that’s the nice way of putting it) from working for Megaupload (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/04/government-trying-to-deny-megaupload-legal-representation.ars).
Guess what TPB recently launched?
That’s right, an artist promotional service with no middleman in sight.
I hope TPB is ready for what is coming.