Dutch Court Lets ISPs Flee Pirate Bay Battle
The Pirate Bay is once again wide open, thanks a ruling by an appeals court in the Netherlands that decreed Internet providers no longer have to block IP addresses associated with the site.
The Hague Appeals Court reasoned that the required blocking was impossible to implement or enforce because users were able to use workarounds to access the site.
The Pirate Bay is a P2P website that at one time was one of the world's largest BitTorrent trackers, connecting users to music, movies and other content on other users' PCs.
In 2011, the antipiracy foundation BREIN filed suite against the site and its founders, requesting that the Dutch court system order ISPs to block people from using it. It won its case in 2012, and ISPs were required to block the traffic, under the threat of stiff penalties in the event users were allowed to break through.
However, users were able to employ various means to circumvent the blocks, and the ISPs eventually went to the courts for relief.
The court agreed -- noting that the ISPs were not themselves violating the copyrights.
BREIN may file an appeal to the ruling.
Thriving in Europe
The Pirate Bay is a major source of angst and ire among content owners in Europe. BitTorrent traffic continues to grow there, even as it falls in the U.S., according to a recent Sandvine report.
In the U.S., users increasingly are accessing content from such legitimate sources as Netflix and YouTube, Sandvine found. Overall, BitTorrent traffic as a percentage of total Internet traffic fell to 7 percent in the second half of 2013, a drop of 20 percent. In Europe, half of all uploaded content was attributed to the protocol.
BitTorrent still has its fans in the U.S., however.
"Lifting the ban on The Pirate Bay is huge for both computer users and all pirated sites. Now, users will be able to freely go on such sites without limitations," Joe Silverman, owner of New York Computer Help, told the E-Commerce Times.
Before users get used to it, though, they had better monitor events in the Netherlands, warned David Cadden, a professor of entrepreneurship and strategy in the School of Business at Quinnipiac University.
"I believe the Dutch finding will be a temporary victory for those who believe in totally free access to the Internet," he told the E-Commerce Times. "It's obvious that those who support the protection of copyright will file an appeal."
The ruling doesn't affect users in the U.S., anyway, he pointed out.
"It would appear that this finding will only affect the Dutch [ISPs] blocking Pirate Bay and will not be used as a precedent in cases in other countries," noted Cadden.
In Europe, the decision could spur content providers to develop more ways for their audiences to see the latest in movies and TV shows. One possible explanation for Europe's higher BitTorrent levels is that users have few legitimate options.
For some, the issue is a larger one.
Though piracy is wrong, so are the actions of courts that block access, contended Silverman. "The legal system really has no right to restrict sites nor computer users from accessing The Pirate Bay and similar sites."