Tom Petrocelli's take on technology. Tom is the author of the book "Data Protection and Information Lifecycle Management" and a natural technology curmudgeon. This blog represents only my own views and not those of my employer, Enterprise Strategy Group. Frankly, mine are more amusing.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Aargh! There Be Pirates Afoot!

Today I ran across an article about a website called Pirate Bay. I won't give their URL since I don't need some automated system thinking that I'm promoting them. Whatever type of 'bot you favor, most are much more stupid than most humans (most, not all) and can't tell when someone is linking to a site for nefarious reasons or not.

Anyway, Pirate Bay is a bit torrent scanner. They publish the addresses of torrent streams used to download all kinds of - you guessed it - pirated media. Music, software, video, you name it. It's so incredibly blatant. I should also mention that these guys are in Sweden where the rules are different. This will be important later, so make a note.

Needless to say, these folks get a billion cease and desist letters on a regular basis. This does not seem to bother them much since they actually publish the letters on their web site along with their responses. The responses range from the merely snarky to the harsh and obscene. I won't go into details but, needless to say, you couldn't sit down after taking some of their "advice".

Much of their taunting revolves around Americans not knowing Swedish copyright law or threatening action under US law. Some letters exhibit a complete lack of basic knowledge about Sweden. Those letters get the extra special treatment as you might imagine. The basis for their disdain is the argument that what they are doing is legal in Sweden. They reserve special ire for those who threaten them with the Digital Millennium Act or similar US-based sop to the recording industry.

The evil part of me finds this truly fascinating, bordering on entertaining. It's not so much the letters
that I find interesting. They fall somewhere between formulaic to downright silly, . It's that anyone would send them at all. Pirate Bay is very upfront about the fact that they publish these letters and verbally abuse the senders. Maybe there is a legal requirement but sending these guys a form letter is just asking for abuse and accomplishes nothing. That much is obvious to even a casual observer. What's even more remarkable are the responses to Pirate Bay's responses. Clearly, someone is not getting the message here.

I would also be worried about bringing this public derision
down on my company or client. Basically, most of the companies that send them letters end up looking quite foolish. The marketing guy in me is just screaming "Stop it! The PR nightmare is killing us!"

So, while I don't condone what the lovely Swedes at Pirate Bay are doing, I have to admit they know how to make fun of something. If I was them, I would shut down the bit torrent site and just make fun of cease and desist letters sent to others. That would be worth something and they are very good at it. They could be the Jerky Boys of the copyright world. Now that's entertainment!

P.S. The bit about what Elk are still allowed to do in Sweden had me in stitches. I know that doesn't reflect well on me.

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