Pirate Bay 4 guilty
Today, the ringleaders of the Pirate Bay BitTorrent tracking site were found guilty and sentenced to one year in jail and fines of upwards of $3 million US (ComputerWorld).
Rightly or wrongly, this sets a legal precedent. Based on having just read Burning the Ships and the looming demise of newspapers and the battles over DRM, this was the second successful salvo from the big media giants and it certainly will not be the last.
The topic I put to you is as follows. Be it resolved that the Pirate Bay site is no more than a sophisticated, specialized search engine and those that created it are no more guilty than any other search engine currently in use on the Internet today.
I would state my case as follows (and I am picking on Google here for ease of typing - insert your favorite search engine):
1) The service provided by Pirate Bay was no different than the service provided by Google. I can search for a torrent feed of show or movie on both sites and both sites will present me with a list of locations where I can grab the torrent file and download it.
2) The service provided by Pirate Bay was supported by the same types of ads that are supporting Google.
I think that we can all agree that under current copyright laws, the downloading of most of the things available by torrent is illegal. I would further argue, however, that media available by torrent is generally unsanctioned while media available on, say, YouTube is sanctioned.
But the argument I would make is that the indexing of information, sanctioned or not, is not a violation of copyright, intellectual property or theft in anyway unless the indexing is done in such a manner to break security on the sites indexed.
I think this judgment has very dangerous ramifications for search engines in general going forward and specialized searching in particular (Lexis/Nexis comes to mind).
What are your thoughts. Let us try to keep it civil. This is not an issue of the legalities of torrenting. We can talk about that later, but of the searching and indexing of material on the Internet.
Fire away. I will get the popcorn.
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