From Sweden, London, to Hollywood, protectors of copyrights are celebrating the conviction of the four men behind the world's most popular torrent tracker The Pirate Bay. The four convicted men behind The Pirate Bay, Frederik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde, and Carl Lundstrom, say they can't and won't pay the $3.6 million in damages and promised the site will continue running. So much for Hollywood's sweet victory and happy ending.
Hollywood may have won a battle, but the war against piracy is far from over. Unauthorized file sharing will continue (and likely intensify), if not through The Pirate Bay, then through dozens of other near identical swashbuckling Web sites.
Of course, The Pirate Bay's case is nothing new. Eight years ago Napster was shut down after getting sued. It tried a few legal business models, but never managed to even get close to the popularity it had when it was operating illegally. The shutting down of Napster turned its creator, Shawn Fanning, and Napster into heroes and martyrs, inspiring others to develop new ways to pirate music. The Pirate Bay site itself is still up and running while the case is appealed.
What Hollywood needs to remember is sites like The Pirate Bay are like weeds. When you try to kill one, they grow back even stronger. In this case, The Pirate Bay already moved most of its servers to the Netherlands, a move that could keep the site running even if The Pirate Bay loses its appeal.
The bad news for copyright holders is there is obviously a market demand for this type of content distribution model. And while the entertainment industry seeks compensation via lawsuits, other similar services (which I do not endorse) such as Mininova, Demonoid and Torrentbox to name a few, will continue to thrive. That is, of course, until they get sued into oblivion as well. And then there is always new technologies on the horizon. Hollywood might want to start looking at a budding new peer-to-peer tool called OneSwarm that aims to let file swappers preserve their privacy by cloaking their IP address.
What do you think? Should all illegal torrent trackers get closed down or should the entertainment industry find a way to make a profit out of them? Please let me know in the comments.