(Unfortunately, this post is not about that kind of piracy. But that would be awesome.)
(That being said, I know my blog title may seem off-topic, but stay with me here!)
|A couple of the larger torrent-file uploading sites, The Pirate Bay & ISOHUNT.|
Things are expensive nowadays and because of that, just about everyone toes the line and downloads something (or receives a downloaded copy of something from someone else) illegally. While not all file-sharing is illegal (for example, freeware or the Radiohead album In Rainbows ), generally things like Napster, BitTorrent & Kazaa, which provide an open peer-to-peer (P2P) system on which users can share music, movies, programs and more, are illegal. But to what extent are the private sector and the government involving themselves to stop illegal P2P file-sharing?
First, let's start off with the question, "What is P2P file-sharing?".
TechTerms.Com gives this brief description:
In a P2P network, the "peers" are computer systems which are connected to each other via the Internet. Files can be shared directly between systems on the network without the need of a central server. In other words, each computer on a P2P network becomes a file server as well as a client.
In one short sentence, two or more computers can connect to each other via the internet & share files. Oftentimes, these files are movies, music, television shows and other copyrighted material. While sharing these kinds of things may seem inconsequential (what with the burning of mix CDs, sharing of DVDs & books, etc...), since P2P file-sharing means that you haven't purchased the item in question, it has an adverse effect on the economy (and is technically considered stealing). Since this not only takes money away from the private sector, but also the government (in the form of taxes), it is something that they can both agree on & fight against, much to the displeasure of the internet pirates.
According to an article on TorrentFreak, Google has begun censoring its autocomplete function to not include terms or websites related to torrenting (another term for P2P file-sharing):
Initially only a handful of “piracy-related” terms were censored, but a recent update to the blacklist includes nearly all the top file-sharing websites.
Searches referring to torrent sites such as “thepiratebay,” “the pirate bay,” “isohunt,” “torrentreactor,” “btjunkie,” “kickasstorrents,” “sumotorrent,” “btmon,” “extratorrent” and many others are now excluded from ‘Autocomplete‘ and ‘Instant‘. Interestingly, the full url “thepiratebay.org” is still offered as a suggestion.
The new list further includes several cyberlocker websites that were perviously left unfiltered, such as “4shared,” “filesonic” and “fileserve.” ...
It is suspected that Google did this in order:
...to keep on friendly terms with copyright holders. The downside to this is that they put perfectly legitimate companies such as BitTorrent Inc and RapidShare at a disadvantage.
Since BitTorrent can also be used to legally download files (several sites that BitTorrent links to offer "download" services for shows, movies, et al for a donation price), it does hurt them (and their affiliated sites) as a company. However, Google's method and reasoning are not nearly as insane as that of the United States Government.
This insanity brought about by the US Government is SOPA. SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act, much like its creators, would work well if it were doing something else or didn't exist at all (No, I am not wild about the US Government. Or any government, for that matter.). A summary from The Atlantic states that:
...the Stop Online Piracy Act goes after piracy by targeting not just copyright violators, but entities on the Internet with which they might interact. And the way the law is written, these other entities will be effectively forced to censor content not after piracy has been proven, but when it is merely alleged. 'One infringing file or 'portion' (e.g. a forum thread) could be used as the basis to take down an entire website,' Devin Coldewey writes at the blog TechCrunch. 'That's a hell of a lever to have at your disposal, and the process for review is slow enough that it could easily be used as a perfectly legal kill switch for any site on the internet.'
Imagine a world where making a harmless joke about downloading a file can get your blog, YouTube account or website taken from you. That is the world that SOPA will create. And SOPA is not just the by-product of a government that still carries a flip-phone:
The Stop Online Piracy Act shows what happens when single-minded zeal originates not with bureaucrats or lawmakers, but with well-connected industry groups understandably focused on a narrow set of interests. They've been able to advance them not only due to the legalized bribery of modern lobbying, but for these reasons too: 1) The industry has a core grievance that is legitimate; 2) Congress is disproportionately made up of older people who are clueless about the Internet; and 3) this stuff is complicated, so neither journalists nor the general public have paid much attention to it.
By comparison, SOPA makes Google's censorship look like a harmless prank- while both aim to please the corporate world, SOPA goes above and beyond the call, marrying the government with the corporate world in order to create an age where even mentioning "internet" and "piracy" in the same sentence could get you removed from the internet forever.
These two articles show vastly different methods in achieving the same goal- an internet where people actually pay for things they listen to/watch/use. Google's method, a mere inconvenience to pirates searching for torrents, in this situation, seems like the more sensible way to go about things. You don't anger your constituents, alienate innocents and the uninvolved & eventually censor the internet to the point where it is no longer a useful tool. And while it has been said that:
Congress, under pressure to take action against the theft of intellectual property, is considering misguided legislation that would strengthen China’s Great Firewall and even bring major features of it to America.
America, a country that has always prided itself as being, "land of the free," seems to be taking a leaf or ten out of its largest creditor's (in October 2010, Mainland China owned 906.8 billion USD of US Treasury Securities ) book. However, in a country where everything from iPhones to Rolexes to DVDs are copied and sold on the black market:
...the United States...[is]... consistently critical of Beijing's failure to stop the illicit production of US brands...[and]...issued an annual report saying piracy in the Asian giant remained at 'unacceptably high levels'....
"In China, you can get enforcement but no deterrence," said Chow."You can easily get a raid but there are no consequences to the counterfeiter, who usually pays a light fine and is back in business in two to three weeks."
It seems that the US is taking an opposite route when it comes to punishment for piracy, or even hinting at it.
While the government and Google did not drink the same Kool-Aid before brainstorming over what to do about internet piracy, they do seem to share the same objective of covering their asses. So for all you pillaging internet pirates out there, watch out, the East India Trading Company & the Royal Navy are out to get you!
Articles/Resources (because I have a thing for MLA, sorry):
Ernesto. "Google Now Censors The Pirate Bay, IsoHunt, 4Shared and More."TorrentFreak. TorrentFreak, 23 Nov. 2011. Web. <torrentfreak.com>.
Friedersdorf, Conor. "Congress Weighs Fighting Internet Piracy Like the War on Drugs." The Atlantic. 18 Nov. 2011. Web. <http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/11/congress-weighs-fighting-internet-piracy-like-the-war-on-drugs/248690/>.
Jackson, Allison. "Counterfeiting in China Thrives: Expers." Google. AFP, 2 Jan. 2010. Web. <http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jAzaA37JQGbYPUaKXJwts0nA8vXg>.
MacKinnon, Rebecca. "Stop the Great Firewall of America." Editorial. Nytimes.com. New York Times, 15 Nov. 2011. Web. <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/16/opinion/firewall-law-could-infringe-on-free-speech.html?_r=4>.
Monaghan, Angela. "Radiohead Challenges Labels with Free Album." The Telegraph. 02 Oct. 2007. Web. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/markets/2816893/Radiohead-challenges-labels-with-free-album.html>.
"P2P (Peer To Peer) Definition." The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary. Web. <http://www.techterms.com/definition/p2p>.
Rogers, Simon. "US Federal Deficit: How Much Does China Own of America's Debt? | News | Guardian.co.uk." Latest News, Sport and Comment from the Guardian | The Guardian. 18 Jan. 2011. Web. <http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/jan/18/us-federal-deficit-china-america-debt>.