The already cold relationship between governments and online file-sharers is getting even more tense. Swedish Officials recently raided Web host PRQ's headquarters, a familiar act that led to the conviction of the file-sharing site Pirate Bay's operators in 2009.
Elsewhere, the United States and Japanese governments are close to launching copyright protection initiatives aimed at illegal online downloading. These elevated measures depend largely on the support of Web hosts and Internet service providers (ISPs), which must agree to police their customers. While governments and companies may be raising their game, Web-savvy file-sharers have proven historically to be in a different league.
Down by the BaySweden's cloak-and-dagger raid coincided with the outage of a leading Internet-freedom advocate — The Pirate Bay. PRQ's owner claims his firm hasn't operated The Pirate Bay since 2010, according to Technewsworld.com, but the fact that the outage coincided exactly with the raid draws his claim into question. After an unusually long two-day outage, The Pirate Bay was back online. Perhaps it was just a coincidence and PRQ really is no longer associated with the controversial platform, but the two events raised more than a little suspicion.
While The Pirate Bay is still up and running, four of its former operators are facing year-long jail sentences for their 2010 conviction of breaking copyright laws. One of the culprits, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, is currently serving his sentence after police extradited him from Cambodia in September. Warg had been appealing the 2009 ruling before fleeing to Cambodia and upon landing in Sweden, he was detained on suspicion of hacking, according to NBCnews.com.
Although its four founders are serving time, The Pirate Bay stills seems to be at the center of copyright conflict in Sweden and with a cult-like following, don't expect it to go away any time soon.
Regulation Headed to a Town Near YouOther governments are taking a less-exciting approach to solving copyright conflicts. In the U.S., a country whose majority reacted negatively to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) is introducing a six-strike warning system to combat piracy, according to Webpronews.com. Online users will face warnings for the first five copyright infringements. On the sixth violation, ISPs would implement penalties, which could include reduced Web speed or a redirect that requires users to call their provider.
Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Cablevision and Time Warner Cable have all signed on to enforce this program. The CCI could potentially call on VPS hosting services to police their customers at some point.
The Japanese government has its sights set on a similar ISP-regulated program, but it's having a more difficult time getting all of the players on board. Japan is lobbying ISPs to install software to detect and disrupt illegal activity, which would help the country prosecute downloaders for a proposed two years and uploaders for a proposed ten years, according to Theregister.co.uk.
Governments and ISPs may be focused on piracy, but online file-sharers have a proven ability to stay one step ahead of their pursuers.