Thursday, June 01, 2006

Pirates Ahoy!

Its always the way, it seems. I go away for a week, and all hell breaks loose

Biggest news, of course, is the raid on PirateBay. Its knocked my follow-up on the inconsistencies of various groups and theier statistics into the background.

Little bit of background.

Piratebay is a tracker and torrent indexing site hosted in Sweden. It offered torrent files, with a comments system to garner feedback on a particular download, which coupled with its open tracker (as in, anyone could use it, not just certain registered members) meant it grew. What really made its appeal grow, however, was the section it entitled 'legal threats'. Mainly this consisted of companies/lawyers emailing them to have torrents removed. Depending on the tone of the initial letter, the reply's could become somewhat 'colourful', but all along the general lines of 'such and such's laws do not apply in Sweden, Swedish law does, and under appropriate Swedish judicial rulings, the items in question are currently legal'.

That attitude, plus its claim of being 'the biggest bittorrent tracker' is almost certainly what has raised the ire of many. Couple that with its recent windfall from the Swedish gameshow 'Top Candidate' (to the tune of some $4,656) and the aims of its political arm, Piratpartiet, to get elected probably accelerated things. Nor, for that matter, can the date be all that coincidental. Initial reactions were “is this another hoax”, as last year at the start of June, Piratebay pretended to have been shutdown, as a prelude to their new upgraded site.

This has been quickly dispelled by a plethora of sources, on both sides. Everyone from the MPAA on in fact. Which brings me to a small point. This raid was clearly pre-planned, with the knowledge of the MPAA. Its press release was released too quickly, with too much accompanying material, for it to have been done on the spur of the moment. I'm not saying its not possible, it just doesn't seem likely. After all, “A lie can get around the world before the truth has got its boots on” - something I for one like to keep in mind.

Lets go by what is known. A search warrant of some kind was served on the host, by the National Criminal Investigation Department. A number of servers were then taken, not all of which belonged to 'The Pirate Bay', but some which belonged to other customers. One of them was the UK/Swedish company 'Gameswitch'. “Our hardware was severed from the internet at approximately 12 noon Swedish time today without notice or explanation and currently is believed to be in the possession of Stockholm Police, although this cannot be confirmed; we have thus far been unsuccessful in attempts to seek information from both the Police as they hold their silence and our contacts at our service provider, PRQ (most of whom had been taken in for questioning)” says GameSwitch Director, Christopher Adams, “As a result of this seemingly irrational and disproportionate move by police, our entire business, in effect, has also been seized.”

Hardly the best public relations exercise for the Swedish police, nor it may seem, the most legal. Admittedly, I'm no expert on law, but I have the impression that a search warrant can't be used to cart off anything and everything they feel like. Imagine, if you would, having your car impounded, just because it was in the same car park as a car the police were interested in.

As for anything else, well, we'll have to see. The only other fact anyone's been able to determine is that at least two people, possibly those going by the aliases 'anakata' and 'tiamo' have been detained by the police. Rumours, on the other hand, are rife. One that is quite interesting, however, is from SVT – apparently, they've had unnamed sources telling them that its down to media interests pressuring the Swedish authorities. Again, this is all unconfirmed, only time will tell.

The big question is, what about the other people, The businesses hurt by it. The MPAA et al. claim to be financially hurt by the actions of sites like these, but as yet have not produced any (and I really do mean any) evidence of this. Studies, yes. Hypothesis, yes. Evidence, no. An estimation based on assumptions doesn't have any factual relevance. If I made an assumption about how many more years I'll live, based on my lifestyle, general health, etc. It might be a very nice estimate, very pretty, comforting and so on. If, however, I go and get hit by a truck tomorrow, or get the Bird Flu, it won't matter how accurate the assertions are that made up the lifespan estimation, because in the end, the facts (how much longer I actually did live) didn't bear it out. That is something the media has yet to understand, or distinguish. For Gameswitch, no estimation is needed. Their business is shut down. They are losing money and who's the people behind it?

Whoever ordered this raid, and whoever was the on-scene commander, is probably going to be out on their backside after this fiasco. If you're going to do a job, don't do one that's got world-wide interest, and then mess it up so grievously. Not if you want any sort of public respect left. This is right up their with the Michael Brown/FEMA emails from Katrina.

B jones.

GameSwitch press release here
[Editors note: again, thanks to kdsde for the correct party name]

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  1. They will return better then ever. I just hope the people behind this are sued for damages. It would be nice to see the MPAA taken to court for once.

  2. Oh I can't wait for this to hit the main news, and they admit that YEAH they messed it up!!.. as for the MPAA I say sue them for every penny they have they deserve it!

    Lets face it the MPAA seem to be taking some desperate measures just lately, what with paying some dude $15,000.00 for info to secure an arreset on toprrentspy, and the other speculation that they have a hacker in thier ranks. I'ld say they are getting desperate.
    This is the 1st of many of their tricks and tacticks, before they give in or was that the "US goverment" give in! its the new "NET POLICE" and I hope all the others like gamesswitch take em to the cleaners..
    because they realy do need showing that this will not stop it just make it go underground again.... IRC(remember those days?) hmmm

  3. About your car park analogy, some time ago I was living in New York and one morning I went out to get my car to drive to work and found it gone. In fact, all the cars on the street were gone. I noticed a few hastily tacked flyers giving the phone number of the local police precinct. After many phone calls, I was told that all cars on that street had been moved the night before "for security reasons," and that I should call back later to find out where my car was moved. The next day, I found out it was because the US president's motorcade was due to pass that way. It took several days for the police to sort out where all the cars were moved to, and eventually I was given the location of my car, but it goes to show that the police will act on the premise that all are guilty until proven innocent. Of course, this could have been handled in other ways, and one must not rule out incompetence as well. In the case of TPB servers, perhaps everyone was presumed guilty, or perhaps the police had no clue about what they were confiscating.

  4. interview with anakata

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