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Piracy: How do you block the unblockable

When DARPA came up with the idea of an interlinked network of computers, the whole reasoning behind it was that a Soviet attack on one part of the system should not prevent communication. Now governments are putting themselves into the Soviet commander’s seats to play war games. KitGuru declares, we’ll be the Russians.

When an earthquake ruptured the main physical connection between Taiwan and the rest of the world, it was a bad day for BIOS downloaders. Any connection to Taiwan’s main technology companies dropped to a trickle almost instantly.

But there was a trickle.

Right now, the war against piracy over the web is at a critical stage, with governments press-ganging ISPs into the fight (often against their will, with court orders and the like) – determined to cut off the supply of TV shows, films and music that some people get for free.

But the internet, by its very nature, is all about ‘resilience’. It’s all about ‘OK, so there is a block here, no problem, I will route around it’.  And with modern networks/data transmission rates, it’s not like the Taiwan cable rupture – because the ‘fall back’ networks are also amazingly fast.

So what happens next?

Well, first up, it seems that Pirate Bay has declared itself to be some kind of political party, standing for various rights and freedoms. KitGuru is no legal expert, but that has to create some new challenges/tensions/difficulties for the governments that wish to battle the pirates.

The first of these is that, it seems, in most of these legal hearings in Holland, the loser would have some kind of right to lodge a statement. That looks to have been denied to Pirate Bay – but maybe as a political party, they would have more rights and it would be illegal to censure their speech in most countries outside of North Korea, Saudi Arabia and <insert name of your favourite dictatorship here>.

What also seems clear is that if Pirate Bay had been allowed to broadcast a message to the world, then it would have started with “Oh, by the way, here’s the fastest way around the block” and the court would have been obliged to print those instructions.

If we use a real world analogy, a government has decided that Scotland is an illegal place to visit – and it has shut the main motorway. However, there are several ‘A roads’ which allow you to drive to Scotland and back quite quickly. The court has decided that publishing an alternative map to Scotland is not legal. They have not managed to nuke Scotland, just trying to block people in England from knowing that you can drive there – in the hope that English people will, instead, visit Scottish stores (run by the UK government) and buy ‘approved’ Scottish products’.

The truth is that people who wanted to buy ‘Scottish goods’ would have already been getting them from the most conveniently located store – and those who were making the trip to Scotland and back had no intention of buying locally anyway – so it’s hard to know if this is a genuine win.

In fact, there is a strong argument to say that it was the constant influx of Scottish goods – from Scotland – that encouraged locals to buy more from the government-approved Scottish shops.

OK, we has stretched that analogy to breaking point – so we’ll leave it there.

Pirate Bay rebrands as a political party, Queen Elizabeth and her love of piracy - alongside a dubious graphic for the copyright defenders people (who 'borrowed' the design in the middle - ooops)

KitGuru says: With the world plus dog, laying down an infrastructure for 100Mb+ networking to everyone’s house, there is a lot of ‘dark net’ out there. People who went as far as Pirate Bay in the past – using the obvious route – will no doubt move ‘off the grid’ in search of what they want – creating a large, unmonitored, alternative society. If that alternative society moves beyond ‘Politics as a joke’ and actually stands for office, things could get very funny very quickly. No wonder governments around the world will do anything they can to avoid online voting. It will be interesting to see if Pirate Bay’s decision to follow in the tradition of Queen Elizabeth I by legitimising piracy will work.

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