The Pirate Bay Aftershock, Or Lack Thereof

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The music industry spent Friday and the weekend digesting the Pirate Bay decision, one that mandates jail time and fines for the operators.

But instead of hailing a major anti-piracy victory, most are unconvinced that a broader anti-piracy impact awaits.

In the short term, the effects could be minimal.  The operators behind the Bay are now pushing an appeal, and dragging due process for months.  Within that window, users could react in a number of ways.  Ahead of the Napster pulldown, music fans increased their downloading activity, fearing the loss of a freebie resource.

But something funny is also happening in Sweden.  Traffic levels have been dipping since the passage of the anti-piracy IPRED, a measure that calls for ISPs to reveal the identities of repeat infringers.  An uptick in paid downloading has also been reported, though the broader impact remains an open question.

But the broader result of a Pirate Bay clampdown could be worse for the music and media industries.  Instead of a known enemy, a post-Bay world will disperse traffic to other trackers, or simply encourage the Pirate Bay to move offshore (the group previously tinkered with the idea of establishing itself on a small, sovereign island nation).

Other piracy forces are also tugging.  Content is increasingly shared on upload sites like Megaupload (megaupload.com), an oft-anonymous and decentralized method for sharing.  Meanwhile, programmers will continue to move towards underground, darknet-style protocols, a fire that first rose from the ashes of Napster.

Paul Resnikoff, Publisher.