The Pirate Bay, the site of choice for illegal downloaders everywhere since 2003, has moved its operations skyward. The site, which serves as a sort of search engine for available files, partners users with shareable data with users who want to download it for themselves. Self-billed as “the galaxy’s most resilient BitTorrent site”, The Pirate Bay will now use multiple cloud servers across the globe instead of existing in physical locations that can be raided.
But how on earth do they get away with it? It’s not like The Pirate Bay pretends not to offer free downloads of copyrighted material, after all. It’s the whole wide world’s one-stop-shop for absolutely free music, games, movies, porn, and now even templates for use with 3D printers. Technically, European Union law states that someone who provides an information service is not responsible for the information that is shared on it, but the line is blurring between allowing copyright infringement on your website and encouraging it. That gray area is where The Pirate Bay often gets caught.
Although Sweden is notoriously supportive of file-sharing and has a political party based on the support of it, the founders of The Pirate Bay have been convicted of aiding copyright infringement before, and probably will be again.
The Pirate Bay is always adapting to thwart enemies of file sharing. This past February, the site made the switch from hosting torrent files to hosting magnet links. While torrent files are stored on a server, leaving the website vulnerable to legal threats, magnet links only hold enough info to connect you to other users who have the file on their computers.
Now The Pirate Bay has gone a step further by shifting to cloud computing hosts located in two different countries. With bits of data stored on virtual machines instead of in physical servers, the website will now be even more difficult to shut down.
Whatever your views on illegal file-sharing, you can’t deny that The Pirate Bay has got moxie. It has over five million registered users (and really, who registers before downloading?) and over four million available downloads. Its resilience is owed in part to the conviction of its founders, who in launching it were motivated as much by their belief in anti-copyright activism as they were by profit. Whether it’s a modern-day Robin Hood or a menace to society, The Pirate Bay is here to stay.