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It might seem like something of an odd question, unless your idea of a good night in is a box of popcorn and a copy of some dodgy DVD featuring a Captain Jack lookalike doing unmentionable things to his crew. Yet the answer is that these two things, the illegal file-sharing we commonly refer to as piracy and the porn business, have loads more in common than you might imagine.

For starters, both are hugely popular online. Pornography has traditionally been something of a driver of e-commerce innovation. After all, most pornographers are in the business for profit rather than pleasure, and working out ways to monetize online content was always a priority. And so it was that successful micro-payment systems and pay-as-you go streaming services were pretty much the brainchild of the adult content realm. Piracy has equally been at the forefront in terms of both online popularity and technological innovation. Ask yourself this, would P2P file-sharing services really have matured so quickly were it not for the momentum provided by the opportunity to easily distribute copyright content without having to pay for it?

The other thing that really binds these two Internet stalwarts together, of course, is the desire of The Powers That Be to stamp them out and the apparent impotence that is displayed when trying to do just that.

Many countries have rallied against online pornography, perhaps the most notable being China. Was it really two years ago that I was reporting how "China has officially declared war on Internet porn, and set a target of purging the web of sexually-explicit images, stories and AV clips within a six month timescale" right here on DaniWeb? Yes, it was, almost exactly in fact. That report was posted on the 14th of April 2007. Yet as I noted in this follow up story from January this year "porn is as much of a reality in China today as it was back then." There is no doubting that the Chinese Government has had some success in the ongoing fight against pornography, with hundreds of arrests and thousands of sites being closed down, but as for winning the war, no way. Indeed, I have heard it said that trying to stop pornographic content from being available on the Internet is like trying to stop the sea coming in. While the availability of porn in general is often viewed as a freedom of choice issue, and so the desire to remove it from the Internet is often half-hearted at best, the same cannot be said of child porn. The vast majority of people will be of one mind when it comes to preventing this particularly vile content from appearing online, or off for that matter. Yet even with a determined and cooperative effort from Governments and law enforcement agencies around the world, has the problem been eradicated? No it has not. Take the UK where some 95 percent of all ISPs filter known child abuse sites to prevent access, it has been reported that at least 750,000 UK households still have access to this material.

Trying to stop the sea coming in also applies to piracy. If anyone really thinks that the conviction of the founders of The Pirate Bay in Sweden, together with the fines they swear they will not pay and an order to close down the Pirate Bay servers which they say they will ignore, is going to make any difference at all to the amount of illegal file-sharing which happens every minute, every day around the world then they are simply delusional I am afraid. Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi and Carl Lundstrom have all made it quite clear that they cannot pay and will not pay the fines imposed upon them by the Swedish courts. Found guilty of breaching copyright law, the four have been ordered to pay some UKP £900,000 to 21st Century Fox and UKP £1 million split equally between MGM and Columbia Pictures, in terms of compensation for lost revenue. In all, the amount of the fines and damages totals some UKP £2.5 million. Yet there will be the inevitable appeals, which could spin out for months if not years, and all the while the men have made it clear that Pirate Bay servers will stay up and running. And, indeed, they have with little impact upon the 20+ million people using them to share copyrighted movies and music. Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi responded to the verdict on Twitter by stating "We are the heroes" and "Even if I had the money, I would have burnt it rather than pay" while claiming that "Nothing will happen to TPB."

Frankly, it does not actually matter if The Pirate Bay survives or not. Anyone recall Napster being shut down, what, some eight years back now? Remember the 'death of piracy' headlines then? Did it kill off file-sharing? Nope. Nor have the countless other file-sharing sites which have been closed over the years, of which there are far too many to even attempt listing here. The point being, that closing one, or ten, or even a hundred has not and will not deter those people who want to share files from doing just that. The reasons are many, starting with the obvious point that the Internet makes it far too simple to file-share for anything to be done unless it gets addressed at a technical level and I really cannot see how file-sharing as a technology could be made illegal around the world. But you also have to look beyond the technology and understand the culture as well. we live in a world where there is now a whole generation for whom the Internet is not some wonderful new invention that changes the way we live, work and communicate (as it is for most old farts, even old farts such as myself who have been using and writing about the Internet for two decades now) but rather it is just there. The Internet is a part of their lives which needs no explanation, it just exists. File-sharing also just exists, and it would appear that piracy is a part of their lives.

I don't have the answers, and as a creative and copyright holder who derives income from his work I have a vested interest in desiring a workable solution to the problem. The trouble is, I don't think that workable solution is to spend millions pursuing pirates through the courts when, at the end of the day, it solves nothing. The world is changing, technology is changing it, and content creators and publishers alike are going to have to start changing their business models to embrace it rather than waste their time, money and energy doing a King Canute.

As Editorial Director and Managing Analyst with IT Security Thing I am putting more than two decades of consulting experience into providing opinionated insight regarding the security threat landscape for IT security professionals. As an Editorial Fellow with Dennis Publishing, I bring more than two decades of writing experience across the technology industry into publications such as Alphr, IT Pro and (in good old fashioned print) PC Pro. I also write for SC Magazine UK and Infosecurity, as well as The Times and Sunday Times newspapers. Along the way I have been honoured with a Technology Journalist of the Year award, and three Information Security Journalist of the Year awards. Most humbling, though, was the Enigma Award for 'lifetime contribution to IT security journalism' bestowed on me in 2011.

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Last Post by JJMacey
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Hi,

Have you not realized that anything posted on the Internet is considered free? There is a major paradigm shift going on here.

YouTube, MySpace, etc. only copies those porn sites. Every is looking to make money trying to offer a free product. Then cash into the big money.

I see no success here. I've posted about my 15 year old son here -

http://jjmacey.net/blog/ Free Is Good For Me.

The guys that develop these sites are far, far more creative than most. The US is very restricted in regard to programming and server speed, and operations.

Freedom is the name of the game. The internet makes us free!

Sex sells, but everyone is trying to make money out of it.

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