The website marked its anniversary with the launch of PirateBrowser

The Pirate Bay (TPB) is undoubtedly the most popular BitTorrent indexing website, ranked 94 globally by Alexa. TPB marked 10 years of tumultuous existence in its signature style, launching an anti-censorship browser — PirateBrowser.

The browser is based on Vidalia, the TOR (The Onion Router) network client and Firefox web browser. PirateBrowser’s main objective is not anonymity as prompted by the TOR browser bundle, but its features that enable users to circumvent censorship.

TPB, established by anti-copyright organisation Piracy Bureau, Sweden, with its three-masted ship and ‘Home Taping is Killing Music’ logo, has created ripples across the globe over the course of its decade-long journey. The necessary debate of content sharing on the Internet has been sustained both ideologically and technically by TPB, and now it is also taking up the case of Internet censorship.

Threats and trial

The Pirate Bay has been a troublemaker by facilitating sharing of copyrighted content of media and book publishing companies for free peer-to-peer download.

TPB is perceived a menace not simply because it encourages piracy, but also because of the audacity in the team’s response to legal threats. For instance, in one of the responses to the legal threat by the computer games company Electronic Arts, TPB said: “As you may or may not be aware, Sweden is not a State in the U.S. Sweden is a country in northern Europe. Unless you figured it out by now, U.S. law does not apply here,” and the same is published on TPB website. But in 2009, after the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) pursued a case of piracy against TPB, the Swedish courts handed out a sentence of one year in prison to the founders of TPB, along with a fine of 3.5 million USD.

Pushing technology

The Pirate Bay’s response to threats and blockage to access has been to improve their infrastructure. Making the site available beyond firewalls and ISP blocking through the thousands of mirror sites, which copy content and serve on behalf of TPB main site has been one of the strengths. The Pirate Bay because of these multiple thousand backups can never go offline. Also, the recent renovation of moving torrent files used to index content to the more robust magnet links have made truly resilient.

Two documentary films made by the team clearly present the case of The Pirate Bay. The two-part Steal this film and the recent TPB – Away From Keyboard are crowd-funded documentary films and were directly released on TPB site.

While TPB has been scaffolding its infrastructure with technical enhancements, the Digital Rights Management, and its implementation on the contrary is another piece of technology in response to the torrent sites like The Pirate Bay.

After the raid on the TPB server room and confiscation of servers in Sweden in 2006, as the ultimate solution to build immunity against countries presenting legal threats, TPB attempted to buy the micronation Sealand in 2007 and transform it into a copyright-free nation. Although that attempt failed, TPB crew is still on the lookout to buy small islands or micronations.

Earlier this year, TPB moved its domain registration from Sweden (.SE) to Sint Maarten (.SX), a constituent country of the Kingdom of Netherlands formed in 2010. This again is an attempt to build a carapace of copyright protection by registering a domain in a new country with less stringent or no copyright protection laws.