May 03, 2012 | Jim Killock

We don't have to choose between freedom and copyright

The court orders for the Pirate Bay blocking notice say that:

IP address blocking is generally only appropriate where the relevant website's IP address is not shared with anyone else. If it is shared, the result is likely to be overblocking (see 20C Fox v BT (No 2) at [6]). In the present case, however, TPB's IP address is not shared. Thus IP address blocking is appropriate. Accordingly, the Defendants have agreed to orders which require IP address blocking

The UK’s Pirate Party has decided to mirror TPB here. By doing so, they not only lay themselves open to charges of copyright infringement, but also to IP blocking, which may well shut down their main website.

This is because both websites are currently at the same IP address 95.172.29.90. The court order would therefore require both websites to be censored. That of course would mean a court ordering the censorship of a political party: an unexpected outcome.

There are already add-ons claiming to get round the blocks. Others are expecting the DNS level blocking to be circumventable: no doubt people will be testing this shortly, as Virgin Media are already reported to be blocking the site.

But just because censorship doesn’t always work, that doesn’t make it right. We are particularly concerned about blocking TPB’s public blog, which is an act of pure censorship, with no questions around copyright. It is unnecessary for the court orders to include this content.

There are also, of course, other legitimate torrents we all know about, such as Linux distributions and Vodo torrents which should be excluded from the blocking order.

We continue to state, the Pirate Bay could be an irrelevance to the rightsholders. The groups asking for the court order have chosen to arrest its slow decline, and to put it into the front line. They have created a martyr and a hero by making them the victim of censorship.

It’s hard not to conclude that the Pirate Bay have achieved their aim. After all, their aim wasn’t to make a fortune from copyright infringement, no matter what IFPI and the BPI claim. Their aim was to make the copyright industries look ridiculous, outmoded and to place these companies into direct conflict with music and film fans. The Pirate Bay’s point has been to try to demonstrate that copyright itself is past its sell by date and can only be sustained through creating a dystopia of control, censorship and surveillance.

At ORG we don’t agree with that, but the BPI seems to, every time it pursues policies like the Digital Economy Act,or ACTA and asks for more website blocking and controls on search results. When Claire Perry adds her voice to calls to introduce network level controls on content, we see a growing alliance between those who want to control the Internet for very different reasons.

Politicians, meanwhile seem to be faced with a choice: destroy the copyright industries, or destroy the freedom the Internet has delivered us. They weigh up that the Internet doesn’t matter so much, so go with incrementally increasing the mechanisms of control and censorship.

It is a false choice. The Pirate Bay was in decline. The Internet is the backbone of modern freedom, political, social and creative. Its destruction cannot be contemplated by anyone sane enough to remember that we are being pushed by people with quite extreme views, on the rights holder and the opposite side.

Which side are you on? We’re not on the side of copyright infringement or the groups ordering censorship.

We’re on the side of the people and their rights and dignity. We don’t have to tolerate any of this: it’s time for a lot of people to grow up.