In these turbulent days for illegal file sharing I feel the need to add my personal “rant”.
Recently OiNK’s Pink Palace (short: Oink) was shut down in by IFPI and BPI, in collaboration with British and Dutch police. They claimed to have spent over two years doing research and planning this event. In Britain the admins home was raided and his personal computer(s) was confiscated along with his XBOX (probably due to it’s possibility for media center usage). In Holland, the local police raided the web host where Oinks servers where located.
All of this sounds perfectly reasonable considering how record companies and other organizations such as RIAA, IFPI etc. proclaim such sites to be illegal. However, there are some questions that needs to be asked; are sites such as Oink and The Pirate Bay any worse than Google? For those unfamiliar with how so called trackers work I’ll give a short explanation. A tracker is a website hosting files called torrents. These files contain information on content (such as an album of mp3 files, movies etc.) and from where it can be acquired (a modified truth, but bear with me). Certain applications (µTorrent and Azureus being some popular ones) can read these torrent files and downloads the content described in them. The content itself is stored on other users computers. That is exactly how many trackers proclaim their innocence; they do not host the actual content, but merely information on how to acquire it. A typical procedure to download an album would be: 1. log on to a tracker (if it’s a private one). 2. search for an album. 3. receive search results. 4. download the search result in form a torrent file. 5. load this torrent file in a suited program. 6. have a cup of coffee while it downloads. 7. listen to music from your local computer.
Sounds familiar? Yes this is exactly how Google, or other search engines work. You query the search engine and it gives you a result on where you can find what you are looking for. You then use a suitable program (ie. Internet Explorer or similar) to go there and download the material you want whether the provider has the rights to distribute this material or not. Some may remember back in the beginning of Google Books, where Google itself provided content (in form of digitalized books) they may or may not have the rights to distribute. This would seem more severe than what Oink was doing. If i asked on an on line forum where I could acquire an album, and some random guy pointed me to Dimitrij on the corner of 5th and 42nd street. He then was kind enough to give me an album (although perhaps copied). I would then have committed a crime acquiring illegal goods, and Dimitrij would have given away goods he had no rights to give away. However, could the on line forum, or the person pointing me to Dimitrij be considered guilty? IFPI etc. believe so. This is how (although a little obscure example) trackers such as Oink operate. There is a law, I don’t remember it’s name, which is used in such events. It’s used against trackers saying that they contribute to fraud (or illegal distribution of content). I don’t know which countries this law applies, but is it right? I won’t discuss that any more in-depth here, but it’s a mind opener. Does providing this link (courtesy of Oink) make me a criminal? Or on the other hand, does it make Google a criminal?
Think about it. Should Google be raided and shut down because they provide directions to other people doing crimes? That’s what Oink was.
Now, a little disclaimer so to speak. I do acknowledge that Oink was created for the sole purpose of sharing content, most of which by individuals who have no rights to do so. Google is not. Despite this fact however, the discussion above is both interesting and highly relevant.
Waffles are delicious!