Thursday, March 1, 2012

Forward-thinking file-sharing

Torrent giant, perhaps in light of the "voluntary" shutting down of BTjunkie and in anticipation of evading future prosecution, has removed all its torrent files. However, file sharing has not stopped. The torrent files are still available through magnet links, that is, through peer to peer sharing and not through download from the main site itself.

It's easy to see that TPB is SOPA-proofing itself. Several sites have already been taken down, either because of the US federal government, or by the owners themselves in fear of legal action. Pirate Bay's founders, who are Swedish, already lost a case for violation of copyright laws in 2009, but which is currently on appeal with their Supreme Court. However, their site is as strong as ever, and is still a large source for the sharing of files online.

My reflection on this is that no amount of legislation is going to stop file sharing. People are going to find loopholes around the laws. Overly restrictive laws, on the other hand, will not work because they will neccessarily cripple the internet, and as our professors have mentioned, turn almost every online activity into something illegal.

The 2009 case found the Pirate Bay operators accessories to IP violations. It is easily arguable either way as to whether merely hosting magnet links without providing the files themselves will constitute being an accessory as well. This will end up being dependent on how liberal or strict the courts will be, as well as which side national policy will really favor.

In the end, it's clear that the near future will be an interesting time for the internet, those who share files, and the end users. Hopefully the outcome, in terms of legislation and cases, will be one that is fair and favorable to the common user, and not only to the multimedia giants.

Daniel Luis Convocar
Entry No. 9


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