Article 43


Why Web Pirates Can’t Be Touched

In the spirit of the ANTI-DRM movement, brought on by companies like MICROSOFT, TAMOSOFT, and OTHERS that share an ARROGANT, anti-customer ATTITUDE - this article is posted. I don’t support stealing, but if it weren’t for warez, P2P sites and the HACKING community, the right to FAIR USE would loose to CORPORATE GREED.


Yar! Why Web Pirates Can’t Be Touched

By Andy Greenberg
May 7, 2007

Pirates don’t just plunder. In Sweden, it seems, they also believe in sharing.

As the world’s largest repository of BIT TORRENT files, THE PIRATE BAY site helps millions of users around the world share copyrighted movies, music and other files - without paying for them.

That’s illegal, of course--at least it is in the U.S. But when Time Warner’s Warner Bros. studio accused them of breaking U.S. copyright law in 2005, the pirates gleefully reminded the movie company that they didn’t live in America, but rather in “the land of vikings, reindeer, Aurora Borealis and cute blond girls.”

Based in Stockholm, The Pirate Bay serves as a massive worldwide hub for copyright infringement but is shielded by its home country’s lax copyright laws. The site lives in a comfortable legal loophole, one of many available to Web sites that offer users copyrighted content. Some exploit vagaries in U.S. law, while others depend on their international immunity.

That rankles big media outfits like Sony, General Electric-owned NBC, News Corp.  and Viacom as they vie to hang on to their sales and carve out a slice of the Web’s growing audience - hence Viacom’s ongoing $1 billion suit against Google’s YOU TUBE. But no matter the outcome of that trial, sites like The Pirate Bay show that the Web will always offer safe harbors for clever copyright violators.

Take the growing guerrilla army of YouTube clones. Video sites like DailyMotion, Veoh, GoFish, OuOu, Peekvid, LiveDigital and 1Dawg work on the same model as YouTube, allowing any user to upload content. But they don’t suffer from as much legal scrutiny as better-known video sites, nor do they limit the length of clips uploaded by users.

That means practically any television show or movie can be dug up on one of these YouTube imitators, and another subindustry of Web portals has sprouted just for that purpose. Sites like ALLUC, VIDEO HYBRID, PEEK VID, and YOU TV PC, all collect and organize links to movies and shows on these second-tier video sites, offering streaming, on-demand video copyright infringement.

These two classes of video sites--one that lets users upload videos and another that links them to movies and shows located elsewhere--work together in a careful symbiosis., for instance, links to Lost episodes on Veoh, Scrubs episodes on LiveDigital and kung-fu movies on DailyMotion, bringing in about 500,000 unique visitors a day. The sites creators, three teenagers living in a suburb of Hamburg, Germany, say they’re making plenty of money, though they won’t say how much. They also say they’re not breaking any copyright laws, since they merely link to content instead of hosting it on their own site.

Their argument is rooted, ironically, in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act that U.S. lawmakers approved in 1998. The kids, as well as the operators of most sites that let users upload content, argue that they’re not violating copyright law if they’re not the ones putting it up and if they take it down at the copyright holder’s request. It’s the same argument Google is making in its YouTube case.

But there are more practical reasons that sites like get away with what they’re doing. One is that there are simply too many of them to keep track of. Media companies’ lawyers rarely have time to police so many obscure sites, and even when they do, users can always upload the infringing files again. So the flow of copyrighted streaming video continues.

Not every scheme to evade intellectual property laws is so subtle. The music-selling site ALL OF MP3 uses a simpler business model: Base your company in Russia, steal music from American labels and sell it cheaply. AllofMP3 allows users to download full albums for as little as $1 each--10% of what they would cost on iTunes. From June to October 2006 alone, the Recording Industry Association of America says that 11 million songs were downloaded from the site. AllofMP3 claims those sales adhered strictly to Russian law, but that doesn’t satisfy the RIAA; the record labels have launched a lawsuit, asking for $150,000 for each stolen file, totaling $1.65 trillion.

As Russia seeks to join the World Trade Organization, it may be forced to step in line with international copyright licensing and stamp out sites like AllofMP3. But there’s still hope for international pirates: Despite Sweden’s membership in the WTO since 1995, The Pirate Bay’s copyright sabotage campaign is alive and well. Though Swedish police raided the site’s headquarters and confiscated its servers in May of last year, the site was soon back online, running on donated hardware. Since then, Pirate Bay administrator Peter Sunde says, the site has started distributing its servers and bandwidth to other locations to avoid the possibility of another raid. Sunde claims even he doesn’t know exactly where the servers are stashed.

Still, Sunde and his partners in piracy are waiting for the Swedish government to press charges. If they are prosecuted, Sunde suspects it will most likely be in the next month, before the servers confiscated from their headquarters last year become inadmissible as evidence. But he isnt worried. “If the Swedish government presses charges, they’ll lose. If they dont, the U.S. government will be mad at them,” Sunde says. “They’re in quite a pickle.”

So, he might have added, are the worlds copyright holders.


Posted by Elvis on 05/18/07 •
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