Like actual privateers, the scalawags at The Pirate Bay — a search engine for illicit downloads of copyrighted material — have traveled from port to port, seeking safe haven from a legal storm. These pernicious purveyors of ill-gotten digital goods moved their operations from Sweden to Norway earlier this year, but quickly fell out of favor with their Norwegian benefactors. The site is still up and running, though, thanks to an Internet service provider based in North Korea.
The Hermit Kingdom, despite not being the biggest fan of democracy or the freedom of information, nevertheless took up The Pirate Bay’s Jolly Roger, according to a trace of the site’s digital pathways. During its transition from the snowy shores of Norway to the less-friendly environs of North Korea, The Pirate Bay’s servers were down for a grand total of 10 minutes. The site itself does not host any illegal files, but rather provides “torrents,” which allow multiple users to share files — legal or illegal — with one another.
The reason why North Korea would want to provide safe haven for digital pirates is a mystery, but Rick Falkvinge has a theory. Falkvinge leads the Swedish Pirate Party, a coalition of Swedes who believe that the freedom of information justifies any and all forms of file-sharing, including piracy of copyrighted materials. “North Korea may have the one government on this planet which takes pride in asking Hollywood and United States interests to take a hike in the most public way imaginable,” he writes.
The irony is not lost on the captains of The Pirate Bay. “Our opponents are mostly huge corporations from the United States of America, a place where freedom and freedom of speech is (sic) said to be held high,” states a press release on their behalf. “And to our help comes a government famous in our part of the world for locking people up for their thoughts and forbidding access to information.”
This is not the first time The Pirate Bay has been involved in a deeply paradoxical situation. Last month, the Finnish Copyright Information and Anti-Piracy Centre (CIAPC) copied The Pirate Bay’s website design verbatim, changing only the mission statement so that it mocked piracy instead of embracing it.
The Pirate Bay responded, “Stealing material like this on the Internet is a threat to economies worldwide. We feel that we must make a statement and therefore we will sue them for copyright infringement.” No suit followed, however.
The North Korea solution is unorthodox, but not nearly as much as The Pirate Bay’s other proposal: server storage in the sky. By launching unmanned server drones into the troposphere, the site’s administrators believe that shutting down the controversial torrent repository will require an actual airstrike.
While the North Korean server hosting seems to be real, it’s probably best to take the drone server suggestion with a grain of salt. After all, this is the same organization that printed up $0 gift cards for display in Swedish supermarkets.