You don’t mess with the downloads, people. Where am I gonna get my Love Actually fix now?
The Pirate Bay, once the most famous website in the file-sharing world, has been offline since December 10, when Swedish police conducted a raid at a server facility long thought to have hosted the site. TPB was not itself a file host or peer-to-peer network, but rather a search engine which combed the internet for torrent files and made them available to the public the way Google makes websites available. Nonetheless it was a high profile and centralized target, and has been the focus of law enforcement activities since its emergence. Its three founders have all been arrested over the past three years on charges from a 2009 conviction for assisting others to violate copyright.
Needless to say, mirrors of the site have sprung up across the internet, of variable reliability and safety. That was TPB’s stock in trade: safety. They offered a ratings and feedback system which ensured that the risks a downloader took were minimized as intelligence about the uploaders’ reliability was farmed out to past customers. It was, insofar as any torrent-related site can be, mainstream-friendly. Use the new clones at own risk.
Now Anonymous, who has long supported both The Pirate Bay and the freedom to share information which it represents, has come out with #OpPirateBay.
From the traditional Pastebin press release. All [sic]:
As many of you know, the file sharing site The Pirate Bay was taken down and a crew member was arrested. The Swedish police in Stockholm seized servers, computers, and equipment from the office of the company in an attempt to lower piracy levels and discourage the downloading of such files … The Pirate Bay was taken down and the premisis raided by the police, violating their right of freedom, when in fact the police were strong armed into this. Private companies pressuring the police force into taking down the site was the true reason for this blatant violation of rights. Movie groups and other companies have been pressuring the police force for years to take down the site, to no avail. But it now seems that the police have chosen to go against our rights and strip citizens of the most basic human right. This can not, and will not go unnoticed. We must take action against this intrusion of our rights. The time to act is now!We as a collective will not sit and twirl our thumbs as our rights are violated. We will retaliate. We have the means and we have the reasons. You may not see us coming, but you will definitely see us once we have made our move.
A simple YouTube search indicates over 500 pre-existing videos relating to OpPirateBay, most from two years ago after the arrest of TPB founder Per Gottfrid Svartholm Warg (anakata). While the Pastebin has had over 1200 reads in its first three hours, a Topsy.com analysis of the hashtag indicates fewer than one hundred tweets today. That’s what you get for launching an operation at 1am New York time.
The list of targets and actions remains to be seen, but the uptake seems significant; the lack of Twitter statistics yet high number of Pastebin views can be due to sharing on Facebook, where there are literally hundreds of Anonymous groups and pages, linking from European news sites, or possibly sharing through IRC and other back channels.
Or possibly Topsy is just broken: the Pastebin itself has social sharing buttons showing 120 Tweets at this time. Then again, maybe they just hacked the Pastebin hit counter; when it comes to Anonymous, victory in numbers is just a botnet away.
Featured Image by Site Marca on Flickr