Pirate Party Proxy Shutdown Means Activists Will Fight Another Day

As reported earlier today, the UK Pirate Party has taken the difficult decision to shut down their Pirate Bay proxy service. The law firm representing the party has informed TorrentFreak that due to the state of the law, choosing to carry on providing the service would be "untenable". While PPUK's move will be unpopular with some, it does mean that the party can put this episode behind them and fight another day.

It must have been a heartbreaking decision but Loz Kaye of the UK Pirate Party has had to back down in the face of what could have been a ruinous battle with music industry body BPI.

The dispute was over the Pirate Party’s Pirate Bay proxy, a service that enabled UK Internet users to gain access to The Pirate Bay, despite there being a court-ordered blockade by six of the country’s biggest ISPs.

In short, the BPI asked the party to take down the proxy but the party refused. In response the BPI threatened legal action, not against the party itself, but against members of the party’s National Executive Committee. This meant that Loz Kaye and others would have been held personally liable in a High Court battle.

That move appears to have taken Kaye and the other members by surprise and the proxy was shut down last night.

The BPI informs TorrentFreak that they received a letter this morning stating that the shutdown would be permanent.

“BPI has today received signed confirmations from Pirate Party UK executives that they will remove proxy access from their website to the illegal site The Pirate Bay,” they explained.

“BPI welcomes this development. Provided Pirate Party UK complies with the confirmations, no legal proceedings should be necessary.”

After being advised to stay quiet, a few minutes ago Manchester-based lawfirm Ralli sent a statement to TorrentFreak on behalf of the party.

“Despite attempts by elected members to resolve this situation, the law at present is clear and makes any decision to continue hosting the proxy untenable,” explained IP lawyer Frances Nash.

“This is not the outcome the party wanted however, any challenge to this proposed action would make it financially impossible for the party to deal with other issues for which they actively campaign on a daily basis.”

“The Pirate Party strongly believe that site blocking is both disproportionate and ineffective and will continue to lobby for digital rights and their wider manifesto.”

There is no doubt that the decision to shut down the proxy will be unpopular with some supporters who wanted to see a fight to the bitter end with the BPI. But of course, they aren’t the ones facing a massively costly and stressful High Court battle, one that would take a huge toll on Kaye and the others and one almost certainly destined to fail.

This morning the BPI told us they were “dismayed” to read allegations from Loz Kaye last week that the music industry body had threatened to bankrupt him, insisting that no such threat had been made. Actually we believe them, but that doesn’t really change the reality on the ground. A fight of this nature would be ruinous – the BPI know that and so does Kaye – hence the comment.

A High Court battle would have cost a small fortune and somehow that would need to be funded either by the individuals being targeted or party supporters. Quite frankly, and despite the admirable anti-censorship stance of the party, it would be money down the drain – and that’s if they were able to raise the huge amount of money required in the first instance.

Loz Kaye and the other targeted members of the National Executive Committee have done what all politicians have to do eventually, which is to make extremely difficult choices with the long game in mind.

The Pirate Party may have lost this battle and it will hurt tremendously, but as far as they are concerned the war is far from over.

Update: The UK Pirate Party has informed its members about the decision to shut down the proxy. Those who contributed to the fundraiser in support of the looming legal battle can get their money back.

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