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A waterworld, with dubloons and wi-fi

January 12, 2007

You’ve got to admire the buccaneers at The Pirate Bay. The people behind the famous BitTorrent torrent-sharing web site have long bucked the status quo, pushing for the free movement of data around the world — the legality of which is very debatable.

Pirate Bay logoFor years they’ve scoffed at the United States’ film, music and software copyright agencies’ requests to shut down, and even weathered a raid by Swedish police, that may or may not have been requested by the U.S. government. But they still live on.

The arguments here are plenty:

1) Can a computer server or service provider in Sweden or Britain be forced to honor laws for content in the United States? Or in Iran?

Most scholars say no, and of course, countries have the right to block any types of incoming sites from abroad (China, Iran…I’m looking in your direction…).

But it’s not recommended in the spirit of the Internet, which promotes free-flowing access and info.

The problem the Pirate Bay runs into is that there is copyright law in almost every country, so it’s enforceable in Sweden (part of the European Union).

2) Is it illegal just to provide LINKS to copyrighted files elsewhere on the Internet, but not store/share them yourself?

Again, debatable. The Pirate Bay is just a big directory to them, updated regularly. Court cases have gone both ways.

Think of it this way….let’s say the act of calling 1-900 numbers was illegal, and the phone company put out a directory of them in their phone listings online. Would the phone company be breaking the law? Or would it actually take the act of calling to be a violation? So who’s at fault?

Or, in another situation, who’s at fault for a drunk driver who kills someone in an accident? Is it the driver who drank too much, or is it the bartender/server who gave him the one-too-many drinks and let them leave the bar?

Again, good questions … so what’s the Pirate Bay to do?

Open their own country. Now THAT’s the Pirate way! Arrrr…

The micronation of Sealand is their target, according to their new site, BuySealand.com. They are taking donations here. Their theory is, if they buy their own nation, they can set up their own system of government and infrastructure, and put an end to the legal wrangling of jurisdiction over copyright and the like. I’m guessing the RIAA and MPAA won’t be invited to set up there.

From their post:

ACFI is a group of people working for the peoples right to it’s Internets. We have made progress in Ladonia and are now working on the Micronation of Sealand.

Recently it was made clear that this country is for sale. To make sure the owners will be kopimistic and that the country won’t be governed by people that do not care about it’s future, we have come up with a plan.

With the help of all the kopimists on Internets, we want to buy Sealand. Donate money and you will become a citizien.

We’ve set up a forum to discuss how the country is supposed to function. It should be a great place for everybody, with high-speed Internets access, no copyright laws and vip accounts to The Pirate Bay.

Register and let us write history together.

Plan B: If we do not get enough money required to buy the micronation of Sealand, we will try to buy another small island somwhere and claim it as our own country (prices start from USD 50 000).

But, if you look at the pictures, Sealand is actually an old naval platform (early site here) about six miles off the coast of Britain, in international waters. It doesn’t look that seaworthy to me either. Would you really want to move tons of computer servers out there in the rough Atlantic seas? Think of issues of tech support!

Also, the place had a devastating fire in 2006, and it’s pretty much unlivable at the moment. But I’m sure enterprising pirates can fix that!

More about Sealand from TorrentFreak:

Sealand and its hosting company HavenCo have no regulations concerning copyright, patents, libel, restrictions on political speech, non-disclosure agreements, cryptography, restrictions on maintaining customer records, tax or mandatory licensing, DMCA, music sharing services, or other issues; child pornography is the only content explicitly prohibited.

I like their backup plan better. Buy a small private island and form a government there. At least it’ll be warmer!  (Maybe they can set up a small Wal-mart there?)

Good luck to the pirates. Now how fast can the MPAA/RIAA rent a U.S. battleship and sink Sealand in a preventative measure?

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