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The Pirate Bay Interview
January 16, 2008
Thomas Mennecke
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Just about everyone enjoys entertainment, and The Pirate Bay has provided that since its inception in 2004. Over the years it has become well known for its political activism and disdain for copyright law, perhaps more than its BitTorrent tracking ability.

The Pirate Bay has also managed to survive a server raid on the behest of the entertainment industry back in 2006. While this would have all but eliminated any other tracking site, The Pirate Bay managed to get back up and running within a few days. Since that time, legal pressure has been mounting in Sweden. The prosecutor's office is building its case against Gottfrid Svartholm ("Anakata"), Fredrik Neij ("TiAMO") and Peter Sunde ("brokep"), the administrators of The Pirate Bay. Are the administrators concerned? Hardly. In typical Pirate Bay fashion, the administrators are laughing off the threat, confident that they'll ultimately prevail. How do they plan to pull this off? Slyck spoke with Peter Sunde, the spokesperson of The Pirate Bay. A common theme throughout The Pirate Bay’s history has been its nonchalant nature when it comes to copyright and intellectual property enforcement (i.e., your responses to copyright claims). How do you justify this approach?

TPB: They are abusing the fact that most people do not know their own rights. They do not respect the people in general so we have no respect for them. Also, it works like with a bear - if you do something unexpected he will run away, scared. :-) The music and movie industry have virtually unlimited resources in its pursuit of copyright law compliance. In other words, they might continue with their legal pressure against the administration of The Pirate Bay indefinitely. Looking forward 5, 10, or even 15 years, does this concern you?

TPB: Well, they can't get to The Pirate Bay at all. That's their main issue with us, that we are based in a country where they have no saying towards what we do. That's why they pressured the government to do something and it didn't work out, so now it's even harder.

They will probably continue their work on pressuring governments and greasing the politicians within the European Union, but at the same time their popularity is declining rapidly, both at the people and the artists themselves. The record industry is it's own worst enemy. What is The Pirate Bay’s philosophy regarding copyrights? Do they have any role in the digital age?

TPB: We think that the copyright needs to be changed to fit the current climate of usage and taken the distribution platform into respect. The opposite side thinks that they need to close the internet down so they won't lose control.

I won't say I have the best answer for how the copyright should work - but a creative commons license is better than what we usually have today. But my personal opinion (that is not always the opinion of all of us behind the bay) is that copyright is not needed when it comes to personal use. Could you discuss the potential rift in the BitTorrent community, and what The Pirate Bay is doing to ensure a cohesive protocol? Or perhaps does The Pirate Bay have other thoughts in mind?

TPB: The problem we see with the protocol today is that it's owned by a private company that, just as all corporations, has the main goal of making revenue. This does not go hand in hand with the idea of free sharing of information as most of the companies that would benefit from a protocol like BitTorrent is scared of the distribution power it gives their end customer. Therefor it is not unlikely that they are to be sold or go into agreement with some of the big companies and start censoring the content or put licenses on the technology itself, which would be a nightmare for the internet and its users.

We have expressed our opinions to BT Inc about this and they have listened to them, we just hope that they will do something about it as well. In the mean time we're still developing, slowly, our own version which will be totally free, open source, open protocol and without licenses. The Pirate Bay just received over 4,000 pages of legal paperwork from the prosecutor’s office. Assuming you’ve read at least a portion of it, what is the focus of the prosecutor’s case?

TPB: It's the financial side. It's trying to determine how much money the site has generated. They are not focusing what so ever on the copyright issues, I don't think there is one single line in the paper work that says that it should somehow be illegal with what TPB is doing. In my mind it's totally impossible to win a case against the site. Bear in mind that the swedish government was pressured to take down the pirate bay - it means that they can't come up empty handed. There are print outs of the top 100 sections and so on that take up alot of the pages, but it's still a lot to read through. You’ve stated that the reason for the massive quantity of legal paperwork is overwhelm your ability to understand it prior to trial. When is this trial set to begin, and do you feel there will be enough time to read through it all, (providing you feel it’s of importance)?

TPB: It is of importance for our legal aids to read through all of it and to read up on how the intellectual property functions and find expertise outside of us on the area. The trial has no date yet, we haven't been officially charged with anything yet. We've asked for an extension of the time to read all the material and we're getting a report this week I hope on how that works out. Giving us 1 month to read 4,000 pages - during Christmas and new years - is nothing but bizarre. The prosecutor actually says it's "reasonable time frame". The second biggest murder investigation in Sweden apparently is 1,500 pages of investigation...and I can assure you, they got a hell of lot more time to go through all of it. Despite the growing legal pressure, the administration of The Pirate Bay appears quite confident it will ultimately prevail. How do you maintain that level of confidence when considering the consequences?

TPB: The consequences are just stupid - we can be fined at the most. Also, we're VERY confident that we are not breaking any law. In case we lose the trial we will appeal and appeal and appeal. It will take years and years before this case is over - I would guess the prosecutor will appeal when he lose as well - so if we don't keep things confident it would just put us in personal stress. Let’s assume a worst case scenario for a moment. If The Pirate Bay loses the initial trial round, what does that mean to the end user?

TPB: Nothing. The Pirate Bay is not in Sweden any more. We don't know where ourselves, so it's gonna be hard to prove where the site is. The Pirate Bay has often mentioned that much of its server farm is located overseas. If The Pirate Bay is ordered to shut down and doesn’t comply, at what point do civil charges then become criminal?

TPB: All the charges against us are criminal right now. We won't shut down, and why should we, the site is not in Sweden. Do you feel that you’ve reached the point of no return in your life? In other words, if the worst case scenarios play out, are you ready to go the distance to fight for The Pirate Bay’s existence?

TPB: Yeah, you could say that. We're going to fight for this, since it's our right to do it. Remember, if it's legal why should we be the ones on trial? If you could propose a truce to the entertainment industry, what would it be?

TPB: Well, change your ways! Listen to your users, look at the platform that is here today and realize that you're wrong. CHANGE! It's the only way to survive. And they need to realize they are not the ones in control anymore.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
BitTorrent :: Trackers/Indexers
File-Sharing/P2P Related :: Interviews

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