I’m a Pirate & You Can’t Prove it

Omer Saleem

Britain's first anti-piracy case ended in acquittal of the accused, 26 year old Alan Ellis, owner of Oink. The interesting part of the entire event is that it was inspired by the high profile anti-piracy case against The Pirate Bay, world's largest torrent website.

Oink has almost 200,000 members who shared over 20 million music files amongst themselves in the last couple of years. It was heard by the jury that Mr. Ellis received £11,000 per month as donations to run it. Alan Ellis, a computer science graduate, however claimed that the site was only an experiment to brush up his programming skills [wish I could do that too].

The funny part is that UK courts were not able to prove that Alan Ellis was either running a site sharing pirated files or conspired as in knowing about piracy and still doing it. Defendant’s plead was simple, there was no evidence of pirated music files existing in possession of Alan thus the prosecution had to prove defraud on Alan. Result, they couldn't do it.

It is very difficult to prove piracy as the digital media footprints are easier to erase than most people expect. The Internet Service Providers do have proof of large amount of data being downloaded by a certain user but they cannot pin point what is that data as it violates privacy laws.

All in all, I feel that the western laws are made and then not amended to cater to a newer law thus resulting in issues like this. If the ISPs are asked to track record of customers then they would see a downfall in Internet traffic which will have direct effect on the internet businesses thus ending up in economy going down.

My humble suggestion would be that in order to control piracy, the software companies should come up with a strategy to share resources thus bringing down the cost of software, which will eventually attract the larger user base. Microsoft has realized it and now they are offering free anti-virus suite to its genuine Windows users along with various other applications. Google did it long time ago by generating traffic through its sites and making money through adverts.

Last word; This recent victory of pirates over government will give rise to more pirates unless the tactics are changed.

There are always ways to counter a situation and aggression has nothing to do with it. Be it a real war or cyber war, the only one victorious is the one changing the game plan altogether.

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