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The Pirate Bay: Exhibit A For Why Foreign Rogue Websites Must Be Effectively Addressed

February 16, 2012

On the heels of the Swedish Supreme Court’s confirmation of the convictions of The Pirate Bay operators that ordered each of them to serve jail time and pay serious fines for facilitating massive copyright theft, the illegal file-sharing site quickly moved to change its domain from a U.S.-registered .org to the Swedish .se (see here and here for screenshots). Why? According to file-sharing blog Torrentfreak:

A Pirate Bay insider informed TorrentFreak that this move was made to prevent the US authorities from seizing the domain, which is a serious risk now the court case has completed.
… And with MegaUpload also out of the way, the largest torrent site on the Internet is now a prime target for a domain seizure.

The people running The Pirate Bay are aware of this risk and quickly redirected the site to a Swedish .se domain, outside the reach of US authorities. A Pirate Bay insider confirmed this morning that this was done “just in case ICE has been waiting for the court case to be over.”

Talk about Exhibit A for addressing rogue websites in a meaningful manner.  A blatantly illegal file-sharing site, proud that it’s an online bazaar of every conceivable U.S. copyrighted work, found criminally responsible by its own country’s legal system and who has been ordered by courts in at least seven European countries to be blocked by ISPs, has publicly acknowledged changing its domain name to escape U.S. laws.  It is motivated by its brazen philosophy of thumbing its nose at the basic rights of America’s creators.  It is, in a phrase, one of the worst of the worst. 

It is one of the most clear and obvious examples of why meaningful tools are needed to target foreign rogue sites that steal American jobs.  Responsible leaders in the tech community should come to the table with constructive ideas and work with us and others to address this blatant theft before more damage is done to our economy and the creative community.  As the Washington Post recently editorialized (Megaupload shows copyright protection is needed, 1/22):

Some opponents will fight any regulation of the Internet. This should not be acceptable. A free and viable Internet is essential to nurturing and sustaining the kinds of revolutionary innovations that have touched every aspect of modern life. But freedom and lawlessness are not synonymous. The Constitution does not protect the right to steal, and that is true whether it is in a bricks-and-mortar store or online.


Mitch Glazier
Senior Executive Vice President, RIAA