The Pirate Bay Blocked in Italy

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News Posted: Mon, Aug 11 2008 1:41 AM

Italy has been showing BitTorrent no mercy lately. First Italy shuts down the country's largest BitTorrent tracker site, Colombo-BT.org a couple of weeks ago, and now it is trying to block country-wide access to The Pirate Bay--the Swedish-based BitTorrent site that claims to be "the world's largest BitTorrent tracker"--by ordering all Italian ISPs to block access to The Pirate Bay.

According to TorrentFreak, the initial country-wide blocking of the site was successful: "An insider working at an Internet provider in Italy told TorrentFreak that all the relevant large access ISPs in Italy have complied with the request to block the popular BitTorrent tracker." However, The Pirate Bay was quick to change the IP address of its site, which apparently bypassed the blocks put in place by some of the Italian ISPs. The Pirate Bay also created a mirror site, labaia.org (which the Pirate Bay claims to mean "the bay" in Italian), to bypass other blocks (at least until the ISPs catch up). The Pirate Bay is also encouraging users to "switch their DNS to OpenDNS so they can bypass their ISPs filters."

The Pirate Bay has had its share of runs in with European countries before. TorrentFreak reports that this February, Danish courts ordered a major European ISP to block access to The Pirate Bay for all of Denmark. In fact, even Pirate Bay's own home country of Sweden has tried to take down the site: As ArsTechnica reported in May 2006, The Pirate Bay's offices were "raided by Swedish law enforcement and... all of its servers confiscated." The site's operators were arrested and charged with "breaching copyright law and assisting in the breach of copyright law." While the case is still winding its way through Sweden's court system two years later, the site was back up and running only a few days after the May 2006 raid. In fact, news of the raid helped make the site even more popular. Two years to the day after the raid, The Pirate Bay had this to say: "In the meantime we have grown a bit. From 2.5 million peers at the time of the raid to 12 million peers. From 1 million registered users to 2.7 million. We used to be ranked just among the top 500 websites in the world - now we're top 100."

Allegedly behind all of this anti-BitTorrent action is the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). The IFPI is an organization that represents 1,400 recording-industry members in 73 countries. Among other things, one of its primary missions is to "safeguard the rights of record producers":

"IFPI Secretariat in London is responsible for co-ordinating international strategies in the key areas of the organisation's work - anti-piracy enforcement, technology, lobbying of governments and representation in international organisations, legal strategies, litigation and public relations."

The Pirate Bay sees this latest action against the site in Italy, not as much a move against anti-piracy, however, but more as a government-sanctioned, anti-competitive measure:
    
"Fascist state censors Pirate Bay
We're quite used to fascist countries not allowing freedom of speech. A lot of smaller nations that have dictators decide to block our site since we can help spread information that could be harmful to the dictators.

This time it's Italy. They suffer from a really bad background as one of the IFPIs was formed in Italy during the fascist years and now they have a fascist leader in the country, Silvio Berlusconi. Berlusconi is also the most powerful person in Italian media owning a lot of companies that compete with The Pirate Bay and he would like to stay that way - so one of his lackeys, Giancarlo Mancusi, ordered a shutdown of our domain name and IP in Italy to make it hard to not support Berlusconis empire."


While the governments of Italy and Denmark appear to be taking action against the use of BitTorrent, we're seeing an opposite trend in the U.S. Just a couple of weeks ago, the FCC issued a ruling against one of the country's largest ISPs, Comcast, stating that the company's network management practices of throttling BitTorrent traffic goes against the "concept of an open and accessible Internet." It is still too early to prognosticate how these actions will play out; but if they are indicative of the shape of things to come, then BitTorrent access in the U.S. will remain "open and accessible," while Europeans might find their BitTorrent access driven underground.



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3vi1 replied on Mon, Aug 11 2008 1:20 PM

I wonder if these ISPs might be opening themselves up for legal action.

This may only be relevant in the U.S., but once you start censoring traffic don't you lose your common-carrier status and then become responsible for all the other (potentially illegal) content you might be transferring?

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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