After fifteen years, The Pirate Bay Still Can’t Be Killed – As the internet continues to evolve at an unprecedented rate, one thing always remains constant – The Pirate Bay
In a quiet corner of my high school’s study room in 2009, I booted up my busted laptop while ensuring nobody could peer over my shoulder. I knew it absolutely was a risk to do this on the school Wi-Fi connection, but it sure felt safer than performing it in your own home. All it took was one website and a desktop app. The end result was getting my practical, well, virtually any digital content I needed, all for free.
Little did I know the site I was using, The Pirate Bay, was facing major legal turmoil during that time as a result of an incredible number of users just like me. In addition, i never expected that I’d be using the same site, a decade later, as though nothing ever changed.
The explosion of the internet in early 2000s introduced me to many things: search engines, pornography, chat rooms, e-commerce. But nothing captured my attention quite like piracy, which seemed like a glorified label to offer the action of illegally downloading copyrighted content. I grew up within the 1990s consuming VHS and cassettes. Now, here was a different – a trove of songs, TV and films, ready for download with just a few quick clicks because of the magic of so-called peer-to-peer file-sharing technology. For a kid without much money to enjoy on CDs, it was a godsend. The situation was that numerous early programs came loaded with viruses, unreliable files and unstable connections.
Then there was clearly The Pirate Bay.
Every longtime user from the Pirate Bay generally seems to remember the way that they fell in love with the web page, that was born in 2003 but remains an online juggernaut today. John, a 35-year-old redditor in the uk who asked to employ a pseudonym, describes discovering The Pirate Bay as “feeling a ray of sunlight, just beckoning me to a better world of pirating without coping with garbage user interfaces and shit files.” Alex (another pseudonym, since he’s a practicing lawyer), a 28-year-old in L.A., says The Pirate Bay became “the clear favorite” upon first use, thanks to the organization and layout that felt “way less sketchy” than other platforms. Thomaz Paschoal, certainly one of my college roommates, sums it best. “It was always easy to find precisely what you desired, not like, simply clicking a link that says Batman and you find some good crazy porn movie,” he tells me having a laugh. “It changed everything.”
Unlike some early peer-to-peer file-sharing programs, The Pirate Bay uses a system of torrent files which allows for a faster, more effective method of downloading content. As opposed to receiving a shared file from a single uploader, torrents create decentralized downloads, meaning the information is assembled from multiple users in different places instead of the site or program itself. The better people share a file, the faster download speeds you can get.
But this general benefit of torrents doesn’t explain why the internet’s love affair using the Pirate Bay remains so strong. Other competitors have succumbed to lawsuits, criminal cases and also the competitive marketplace. Those who created and run The Pirate Bay have already been smacked by those blows, too. Yet despite widespread legal scrutiny, blockages in multiple countries, huge amounts of money in fines and beyond, the website with all the iconic mahogany pirate ship logo sails on, backed up by an anonymous crowd of diehard pirates who revive the website every time it seems like down once and for all. “It’s absurd in my opinion that this platform still works and it’s still so widely popular, given that it’s so… illegal. I’m really impressed by the longevity,” Paschoal says. “I remember once whenever they took down the original URL, the dot-org site, as well as the next day you could continue Google and discover 100 identical Pirate Bay mirror sites with the exact same torrents.”
Ten years ago, the Swedish government decided to attempt to punish the founders of The Pirate Bay, all Swedish men, using a barrage of 34 charges according to copyright infringement. While half of the charges were quickly dropped due to a absence of evidence, the case concluded with the unprecedented result: Per year of prison and roughly $3.5 million in fines for your four defendants. Legal experts during the time considered it the most significant file-sharing case in Europe, as significant as the previous U.S. crackdown from the pioneering P2P service Napster (which effectively died because of that verdict).
Copyright cases brought down other legacy names like Kazaa and Limewire as well as two of the most popular torrent sites on earth, Kickass Torrents and ExtraTorrents. Meanwhile, despite widespread concern that this Swedish case would cripple the site, The Pirate Bay lives today, still hosting torrents who have survived for 20 years. Portion of the basis for the site’s longevity may just be because it hasn’t been caught red-handed in a jurisdiction with tougher punishments, says Annemarie Bridy, a professor of law on the University of Idaho with extensive expertise on online piracy issues. “But area of the problem, too, is the fact there’s this legacy the Pirate Bay has, where it’s grown into some thing than those who first operated the web page,” Bridy tells me. “It’s a phenomenon. And then there are people who are just awhgtp dedicated to the operation of The Pirate Bay. For as long as that’s the case, it’s going to be very, very hard to shut down.”
Here is the story of a plain-looking website that sprung from the most fertile duration of the first internet, blatantly raised its middle fingers at intellectual property laws and copyright owners and lived for what is definitely an eternity within the timeline of digital evolution. It’s thrived, growing from 25 million users to reportedly greater than double that figure on the last 10 years, and shows little sign of slowing down. “It’s a evidence of what an anonymous crew can do when they really believe in the cause of giving us access to the products that are so corporatized and endlessly monetized,” John says.