I keep getting asked The Pirate Bay trial and although I’ve talked about it several times in interviews, I’ve not said much here. The main reason is I don’t think there is that much to say until we get a verdict.
This is an example of industries fighting pirates when they should be competing with them, and in this case, probably working directly with them. The parties on both sides of this case have very fuzzy arguments and in the long term this case will make absolutely no difference. It’s distracting the content industries from what they should be doing: Creating new licenses and royalty schemes that make online piracy a moot point. As long as they are distracted, content creators everywhere will just have to make do with outdated, broken business models.
We know the opinions of those on both sides of this, and they both presented pretty weak cases. The prosecution didn’t have any evidence The Pirate Bay has done anything illegal. No numbers, no damning reports, it was pathetic. Meanwhile The Pirate Bay didn’t present the strong moral case they’ve always claimed to stand behind. As Wired put it, the trial revealed The Pirate Bay “as an empty vessel — a rudderless ghost ship navigating without a guiding principle; existing for no other reason than because it can.” It exists because it can, but mostly it exists because the market has failed to come up with an alternative. This trial won’t change that.
None of this is new. If The Pirate Bay lose, (and they haven’t done anything any less legal than what Google does, so they probably won’t) then the file-sharing world will be temporarily disrupted. But file-sharing will of course bounce back, stronger than ever if history is anything to go by.
They should win, and as much as I disagree with the moral case, I sincerely hope they do. Because that could mean it’s finally time for the content industries to start working with people like The Pirate Bay instead of carrying on with all this ridiculous handbag-swinging. And that’s when things will get interesting, and better, for everyone involved.