Our Free Society Stands Or Falls With Our Defense Of Sharing Knowledge And Culture

Opinion

Yet once more, The Pirate Bay has switched domain names, this time to Peru. In its promise to make DNS restrictions obsolete, The Pirate Bay creates a greater promise against all censorship.

censorshipThe Pirate Bay has been no stranger to jumping domain names to evade feeble censorship.

Starting out at thepiratebay.org in 2003, it switches addresses nowadays as soon as one is threatened. However, the fact that Internet addresses can be censored like this is a large problem.

The copyright industry has been pushing relentlessly for the ability to censor sites they don’t like. Unfortunately, through a mix of digitally illiterate politicians who don’t understand that they’re creating censorship, and digitally literate bureaucrats who want to create this kind of censorship if they can get away with it, several legislatures and administrations have agreed to the insane demands of the copyright industry.

It’s not just bad because it blocks access to The Pirate Bay – because it doesn’t. It’s bad because it creates a precedent of how administrations and legislatures can, and should, deal with publishers they don’t like for whatever reason.

For once the censorship regime is in place, you won’t think for a second that it will stop at culture-sharing sites, would you? Once such a tool is available in the bureaucrat toolbox, it will be applied to anything and everything considered insubordinate or troublesome.

There is a reason the copyright industry loves child pornography so much – the reason that industry lobbied hard to create censorship of child abuse sites, actively hiding the problem and preventing assistance. They knew politicians wouldn’t dare disagree on such a toxic subject, and once the box was open, “other illegal sites” – those that circumvent the harmful copyright monopoly – were next in line. In reality, the culture-sharing hubs had been the target all along, and mentioning “child pornography” had merely been a battering ram to get the censorship started – notwithstanding that the censorship actually creates more child abuse and protects predators, something the copyright industry doesn’t care about at all.

Governments would not hesitate to build further on such a censorship regime. In Finland, meta-discussions about the child pornography censorship were themselves placed under censorship – effectively censoring political discussion that was embarrassing to the administration. In the UK, censorship that started as “violent pornography” has crept to “all pornography”, already censoring a lot of political opinion under that definition, and crept further into “extremist views” and other clearly political material.

It doesn’t take rocket science to see where this is going. And the copyright regime is pushing for an actively-censored society to protect their monopolistic and parasitic business interests. It is therefore, exactly therefore, that the free society stands or falls with our defense of sharing knowledge and culture, and activists like the operators of The Pirate Bay.

In their wannabe censorship regime, the copyright industry has attacked the DNS infrastructure, one of few systems on the Internet that is relatively centralized. Wisely, activists with The Pirate Bay have therefore announced a browser package that makes DNS censorship utterly ineffective.

Now, one could argue that this is a technically advanced solution that would challenge ordinary people’s uptake. While such an observation would be correct, it doesn’t really matter: 250 million Europeans and 150 million Americans have learned to use BitTorrent, which is far from a walk in the park. The demand for sharing is so great that entire generations gladly climb the learning curve without blinking. Any new censorship attempt has always resulted in more traffic to the culture-sharing hubs. It would be a safe prediction to say that a permanent anti-censorship device would be quickly taken up.

Therefore, the copyright industry’s screams for censorship are actively driving the defense of a free society. While I have absolutely nothing positive to say about the copyright industry, it’s heartwarming to see the battle for a free society take place in a location where people actually mount a defense, and make sure that censorship can always be circumvented.

For if such censorship can be circumvented for culture-sharing sites – and it can, and it will – then we still have some hope of communicating insubordinate political opinions in the future, too.

About The Author

Rick Falkvinge is a regular columnist on TorrentFreak, sharing his thoughts every other week. He is the founder of the Swedish and first Pirate Party, a whisky aficionado, and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. His blog at falkvinge.net focuses on information policy.

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