Pirate Bay’s Peter Sunde on the Copyright Mafia

Opinion

Two days ago I read the news that The Pirate Bay will probably be blocked in the UK. It was decided by the High Court, which funnily enough is not the first place where one would expect a court case to first appear. It seems to have been put on a fast track, which in itself raises questions and concerns.

mafiaAs many of you know, I used to be the spokesperson for The Pirate Bay.

I left the site a few years ago to continue working on Flattr and other projects, but I’m just as interested in the questions regarding copyright, Internet and censorship as I’ve ever been. I keep following these issues and keep a close eye on the news.

After having skimmed though the High Court decision regarding a UK Pirate Bay blockade I was intrigued by the claimants’ tactics. They appear to know who runs the site, but somehow decided not to include these persons in the suit.

They put up a list of reasons, mostly rants, about how hard it is to find the people behind the site. But is it really?

They still claim that two old friends and I remain as operators, along with the old owner of the ISP that TPB had back in 2005. However, they decided not to include us. (None of us are actually operators, which they probably know. Indeed, one of the people listed might not even be alive, we haven’t been able to reach him for ages.)

The claimants also say they know which company owns TPB, but decided to not include it in the suit. Those who ever started a company know that you must put up an address, so it’s not hard to find a company rep. Addresses and such are always public information.

So why are they not included? Is there a deeper underlying reason for that? Of course there is. Their main interest is not stopping TPB. They’re interested in making the telco industry liable instead.

The ISPs are usually big corporations, the telco industry is in fact much bigger than the entertainment industry. They’re operating on a global scale with billions of customers. This means that they have lots of money as well as lots of potential customers for the entertainment industry. If the telcos could be held liable for any sort of infringement, and have to police the Internet, there would only be two possible ways to do so.

One would be to shut down their business since it’s impossible to make sure that nothing illegal goes on in your network. The second option is to strike a deal with the entertainment industry.

Just as with any other mafia, the entertainment industry wants protection money. To avoid lawsuits the telcos would have to pay. Either by forcing them to re-sell a service the entertainment industry control (like Spotify) or by charging them a set fee for each connection per month.

The record companies have previously asked for $10 per month per Internet connection. But what about other creators? They don’t really care about that question. Porn, movies, bloggers, search engines are all bigger than music on the Internet. How much should we force-pay them?

A few years back an Irish ISP called Eircom blocked their customers access to TPB. It was an out-of-court settlement which noone knows the details of. Either Eircom got paid or the other way around. That’s plain censorship – Eircom sold out the interest and rights of their customers without a court order to do so. Fortunately the other ISPs refused to follow.

The recording industry really wants a landmark case in order to go demanding money from the telco industry. If they sued TPB they can’t make the telco pay the protection money.
It’s not about saving any artists – it’s about controlling the money flow and owning the rights so the artists and customers can’t go anywhere else.

It’s a corrupt industry which has to be stopped!

About The Author

Peter Sunde is the former spokesperson of The Pirate Bay. He’s currently working for the micro-payment service Flattr which he co-founded in 2010

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