Tired of Copyright Laws? Buy a Sovereign State!
Popular BitTorrent tracker The Pirate Bay is reportedly planning to purchase (or acquire transfer rights to) the self-proclaimed Principality of Sealand, a man-made installation located six miles off the eastern shore of Britain, for the purpose of hosting their servers and mitigate copyright laws in other countries.
Some people consider copyright laws too stifling for innovation and freedom of expression. Or, at the very least, some would like to freely share or download files online, including music, videos, software and the like without having to worry about the legal consequences. Of course, a good proportion of files being shared online are copyrighted, and that the supposed reason for protecting these under the law is for the benefit of the artists and the industry that created them (a debated issue, but that’s worth a couple of lengthy blog posts more).
Those in the recording, motion picture, and software industries aren’t too happy about this, and industry groups often actively seek legal action against entities that illegally host, share and download copyrighted works. Several states have laws against the mere act of downloading bootlegged material. Most countries determine jurisdiction through the actual physical location where files are hosted. And even though new “server-less” peer-to-peer systems like BitTorrent are popular today, and while not all files being shared are bootlegged, servers that host the torrent trackers (which coordinate communication among torrent clients) can be held liable for aiding in the illegal distribution of copyrighted files.
So what’s a torrent tracker or index to do? The Pirate Bay–a popular BitTorrent tracker–is reportedly planning to purchase (or acquire transfer rights to) the self-proclaimed Principality of Sealand, a man-made installation located six miles off the eastern shore of Britain, for the purpose of hosting their servers and mitigate copyright laws in other countries.
The Pirate Bay, one of the world’s most popular websites for the illegal downloading of films through filesharing, has said it wanted to buy its own island in a bid to avoid copyright laws.
“It’s not only about Pirate Bay, it’s more about having a nation with no copyright laws,” one of those behind the site, who gave his name only as Peter, told AFP Friday.
The group said it would consider any territory in international waters to avoid copyright legislation.
“For Pirate Bay it would be awesome to have no copyright law. All countries today are based on the old economy and old ideas and we want to do something new,” he added.
The Pirate Bay has launched a forum and campaign site at buysealand.com, hoping to raise enough funds for the transfer. The asking price is reportedly at US$ 2 Billion.
One issue, however, is that the sovereign nature of Sealand has been in question, so the territory is technically not considered an independent state by other countries. At any rate, the concept of hosting offshore to mitigate legal jurisdiction is not new, even though trade agreements would usually require cross-territorial enforcement of similar laws. Offshore hosting is done by other companies that offer online services like gambling, for instance. If The Pirate Bay and other similar services are successful in such endeavors, then it might make it more difficult for concerned countries to enforce their respective copyright laws.
J. Angelo Racoma is a technology journalist for CMSWire and TFTS. A former editor at Splashpress Media, The Blog Herald and Performancing, he now does consultancy work through WorkSmartr.com. Follow him at racoma.net and on Twitter.