April 20, 2009

A turning point for online piracy?

Posted: 09:50 AM ET

There was plenty of online chatter this weekend about file sharing and Internet piracy.

This follows Friday's news that four people who ran a popular file-sharing site called Pirate Bay were found guilty of violating copyright law in Sweden.

On, a Harvard professor says Google is the new Pirate Bay. The search engine serves the same function as the piracy sites by enabling people to steal copyrighted content, the professor says. An interesting example from the story:

By searching for pirated music or video, Google users can easily scan a range of lesser-known pirate sites to dig up illicit content. Those looking for the upcoming film X-Men Origins: Wolverine, for instance, can search for "wolverine torrent." The first result is a link to file-sharing site isoHunt, with a torrent tracker file that allows the user to download the full film. In fact, searches for "wolverine torrent" on Google have more than quadrupled since the movie file was first leaked to peer-to-peer networks on April 5, according to Google Trends.

DownloadSquad responded with a counterpoint to Forbes' story.

Ars Technica says the verdict is not surprising given the history of piracy prosecutions:

In the US, Napster was shut down even though it did not host files directly. When services like Grokster sprang up in Napster's wake and tried to make their services more decentralized to avoid even the appearance of control, courts still didn't accept the argument that they had clean hands.

On, a writer wonders if we've reached a tipping point. Will illegal file-sharing soon come to an end? Here's the article's evidence of a regulatory crackdown:

Copyright owners around the globe have gone on the attack. They're backing antipiracy legislation in France and Sweden. They're lobbying Internet service providers in the United States to crack down on customers who download files illegally. They're pressuring hardware and software companies to prevent their products from being used as "pirate toolboxes." They're threatening legal action against Google and other sites that aggregate news without permission.

On the BBC, Paul McCartney spoke out in favor of the guilty verdict against Pirate Bay. Here's some of what he told the station:

"Anyone who does something good, particularly if you get really lucky and do a great artistic thing and have a mega hit, I think you should get rewarded for that."

Do you download pirated media? What should governments do about this issue? If you're an artist, what do you think? Feel free to weigh in with comments to this post.

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Filed under: file sharing • Internet • piracy

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