25 million Swedish pirates?


The Pirate Bay is a website which claims to be the biggest BitTorrent tracker on the planet. So big, it seems, that it is even considering pitching for an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Certainly, putting politics and legal arguments aside for a moment, there is no doubting that popularity. The Pirate Bay regularly manages to be listed around the 100 to 125 mark when it comes to sites with most traffic by services such as Alexa. Not surprising when so many of our children are proud pirates, according to Microsoft.

But this latest play is as a direct result of the number of peers that the site has. According to its own blog that number has been growing rapidly, perhaps as a result of the publicity last week when it hit 22 million and the notion of a world record stake was first put forward.

Now, The Pirate Bay says, it has broken 23 million peers within a week of that last milestone. "And it's not like 23.000.000 something" a spokesman says "it was 23.3 million peers." As I write, the site is reporting 23,495,837 peers!

What's more he claims that "We're going to break 25 within the week if this keeps on going!" That looks very likely indeed at this rate.

Perhaps the most worrying thing is that this bunch of pirates are, indeed, pursuing that official world record dream. "we just applied for Guinness and it would be amazing if the record would be even higher..." the spokesman says, amid pleas to "tell your friends to share more and more."

Of course, all this will only go to draw more attention to the file sharing activities of Pirate Bay, and some might argue simply accelerate the inevitable closure. But is that really the case? After all, it has survived high level legal attempts to pull the plug on its servers and services before. That said, the Italians have had some success with Pirate Bay already, and in the UK there is a broader approach to tackling the file-sharing problem.

But even with the Swedish Government currently attempting another attack, the chances of any meaningful victory seem slim. By which I mean that even if The Pirate Bay were to be closed down, a community of fast approaching 25 million file-sharers is not just going to bow its head and walk away muttering 'that was good while it lasted' is it? Such a community will reform elsewhere, and continue to grow from strength to strength it seems to me.

Not that I imagine The Pirate Bay will be sunk any time soon. Although it was founded by a bunch of Swedes, and is often referred to as being a Swedish operation, that appears not to be the case. One of those founders, Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi, told Wired in an interview earlier this year that the nature of the distributed system is that it could be located anywhere.

"We don't know where the servers are" Kolmisoppi said "We gave them to people we trust and they don't know it's The Pirate Bay. They then rent locations and space for them somewhere else. It could be three countries. It could be six countries. We don't want to know because then you'll have a problem shutting them down."

Perhaps the whole concept of intellectual property and copyright protection is sunk after all?

About the Author

A freelance technology journalist for 30 years, I have been a Contributing Editor at PC Pro (one of the best selling computer magazines in the UK) for most of them. As well as currently contributing to Forbes.com, The Times and Sunday Times via Raconteur Special Reports, SC Magazine UK, Digital Health, IT Pro and Infosecurity Magazine, I am also something of a prolific author. My last book, Being Virtual: Who You Really are Online, which was published in 2008 as part of the Science Museum TechKnow Series by John Wiley & Sons. I am also the only three times winner (2006, 2008, 2010) of the BT Information Security Journalist of the Year title, and was humbled to be presented with the ‘Enigma Award’ for a ‘lifetime contribution to information security journalism’ in 2011 despite my life being far from over...