The much awaited verdict on the Pirate Bay trial has finally arrived, and the four defendants are now facing some jail time and monetary fines for their roles in abetting copyright infringement. Perhaps this is the expected outcome but what does it really achieve?
The cynic in me thinks that nothing has really been gained either way, because it remains to be seen if this verdict will serve as an effective deterrent to all the other Pirate Bays out there, given that similar high profile cases in the past (e.g. Napster or Grokster) did not stop the rise of other services (e.g. Pirate Bay). So this could well turn out to be just another chapter in the eternal dance between the envelope and those that seek to push it (well its Friday and I like my metaphor cocktails…). On the other hand, if this results in the unlikely cessation of content piracy, I would be keen to see if / how it will affect the bottom line of aggrieved content industry plaintiffs.
Perhaps the problem is not just Pirate Bay or digital piracy at all, as they are probably just mere symptoms of a more fundamental shift in consumer behaviours triggered by the digital revolution. If that is the case then, it may be more sensible and effective to support the content industry and the whole copyright framework in adapting to these changes, rather than engaging in the weary process of other high profile lawsuits which only move the game to another playing field.
On the same theme of litigation, the register reports that the European Commission has called for a change in UK laws to better enforce confidentiality of communications. This in response to the “lack of action” by the UK government over the secret BT / Phorm trials some years ago. It also reported this week, that some companies and organisations, notably Amazon and Wikimedia, have requested for their domains and websites to be excluded from further non-secret trials of this service, in order to protect the privacy of their customers. It would seem that people are indeed paying attention after all.
Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.