So, you thought only Americans would be the target of anti-piracy crackdowns? Think again. Shortly after the raid of popular music torrent swap site oink.cd, British authorities now say they’re looking for a legislative anti-piracy remedy. They’ve got the backing, not surprisingly, of the British record industry, and it seems continental European nations might follow. Blogger and controversy-magnet Cory Doctorow is even getting to the debate, along with angry UK Internet Service Providers, as reported by BBC News. The apparent solution seems worse than the problem, as British officials propose monitoring individual data packets. (I’m not usually one to agree with Cory Doctorow, but surveillance of all data moving over the Internet seems impractical and wrong.)
Meanwhile, oink.cd’s homepage has been replaced with an ominous warning:
This site has been closed as a result of a criminal investigation by IFPI, BPI,
Cleveland Police and the Fiscal Investigation Unit of the Dutch Police (FIOD ECD) into
suspected illegal music distribution.
A criminal investigation continues into the identities and activities of the site’s
So, will the UK really come after oink’s users, or is that just an idle threat?
Meanwhile, a number of you have written in with what I think is a good criticism of the oink raid, one worth considering even for those of us who oppose piracy. Why did these agencies go after oink first, a torrent tracker that was hosting at least some torrents uploaded legitimately by indie labels, and one far smaller and less focused on pre-release albums than bigger trackers like mininova? Was it because the site’s popularity among some of the music fan elite made it a more obvious target — or simply that the really dangerous and popular torrents are harder to squash? (Or both?) See Veqtor’s comment for a good summary. Some are also putting forward various conspiracy theories, but I personally suspect laziness on the part of the industry and UK/Europe authorities. Software developer and label owner Chris Randall has a well-argued rant against piracy in the same comment thread. But separate from that argument, the failing of the authorities in this case, and some of the potential oink demonstrates for non-pirate, legitimate sites, are well worth considering. See comments on the previous post.