01 May 2008


Some of you might know The Pirate Bay. Or not. The name of this site has been allegedly linked with file-sharing activity.

I'm not sure if I can comment about the legality of the file-sharing activity, however, I'm sure that you, the reader, can look this sort of thing up and come to your own conclusions.

It is, however, interesting to note that the organisation that runs The Pirate Bay, PiratbyrÄn, is quite anti-copyright. I would hazard a guess that this sort of antipathy also extends to those other areas of intellectual property law, patents and trademarks.

Indeed, the contempt that The Pirate Bay has for this sort of thing is made manifest by the 'About' section of their website where, amongst other things, they have this to say:

Only torrent files are saved at the server. That means no copyrighted and/or illegal material are stored by us. It is therefore not possible to hold the people behind The Pirate Bay responsible for the material that is being spread using the tracker. Any complaints from copyright and/or lobby organizations will be ridiculed and published at the site.

The Pirate Bay was started by the swedish anti copyright organization PiratbyrÄn in the late 2003, but is since October 2004 separated and run by dedicated individuals. Using the site is free of charge, but since running it costs money, donations are very much appreciated.

I have mixed views myself on intellectual property laws. I think that the world would be a much simpler place if they were abolished, but I can respect the motivation of filthy lucre in the creative process, both artistically and industrially.

And having seen such disgraceful idiocy as what happened with Le Canard Noir's blog at Netcetera, I generally tend towards the "minimal" position, at least where censorship is concerned.

Lastly, where ‘freedom’ of speech or expression is concerned, I do support moves to ease or abolish as many restrictions on speech or expression as possible. A lot. Even if I think that you would be out of your mind to believe that 'freedom of speech or expression' in even its loosest interpretation is remotely possible in this or any other universe.

So it was with great interest that I noticed that The Pirate Bay has launched a blogging service, Baywords, powered by Wordpress. It doesn’t have the full set of features offered at Wordpress’ own site, however, and Baywords is very much up front about protecting bloggers’ rights to say whatever they like:

Many blogs are being shut down for uncomfortable thoughts and ideas. We will not do that. Our goal is to protect freedom of speech and your thoughts. As long as you don’t break any Swedish laws in your blog, we will defend it.

Now while this might sound noble and all, I admit that I have absolutely no idea of how strict Swedish laws actually are on what can or can’t be published. I suspect that they’re not all that strict.

On Wednesday nights, there’s this show on 3RRR called ‘Byte Into It’ which is an extremely well put together show for computer nerds everywhere. While I resist the tag ‘nerd’ myself, it just so happens that while this show is on every week, I happen to find myself in the car driving somewhere. And listening to it.

So while the news is a couple of weeks old, it was announced on Byte Into It that The Pirate Bay was venturing into censorship free blogging. Normally the guys on Byte Into It are very bullish on anything that assists with freer speech or expression, which was what I was expecting.

It therefore came as a complete shock to me when the news was greeted with outright cynicism and none of the usual jocularity that they normally exhibit. Comments were thrown about as to what content might be hosted, and there appeared to be consensus that you’d think twice about clicking on anything containing the ‘baywords.com’ domain name. Mainly because, in their opinion, there would be a fair to likely chance that the contents of such blogs would contain either:

  • Child pornography/paedophilia;
  • Neo-nazism/hate sites; or
  • Other unsavoury stuff.

Is this cynicism unwarranted? Isn't this good for the internet that someone like Le Canard Noir can blog in peace without fear of reprisals?

On the other hand, is it feasible that Baywords may be a licence for all sorts of despicable trash to proliferate? Have they just provided a soap-box for nutbars everywhere to peddle their tripe?

Lastly, should we care?

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